Fight Climate Change by Reducing Food Waste

The statistics on food waste are staggering. An estimated one-third of food in the world is lost or wasted, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

Every year, 133 billion pounds of food is wasted in the United States. That’s more than $161 billion worth. Each person wastes as much as 20 pounds of food per month, according to the FDA.

Think of the environmental impact created by that magnitude of food waste.

The water and energy used to grow, make, and transport one-third of our food is used needlessly. The amount of lost or wasted food in the U.S. creates the equivalent of 37 million car’s worth of greenhouse gas emissions, according to the World Wildlife Fund. We could reduce 11% of the greenhouse gas emissions generated from our food system, if we eliminated food waste.

Nuts, seeds, pasta and other foods in glass jars

Understanding the Expiration Date

It’s estimated that 20% of food waste in the U.S. happening at the consumer and retail level is because people are confused by date labeling, according to the FDA.

Have you ever gone to grab something from your fridge or pantry and see that it’s passed the date on the package? It reads something like, “Sell By,” “Enjoy By,” “Best Before,” “Use By,” and you wonder what that actually means. Is it still safe to eat? Will it be moldy? Will it taste OK?

The food industry is encouraging companies to use “Best If Used By” to indicate quality. It means their product is still likely safe to eat after the date, but it might not be at optimum quality and taste.

At BumbleBar, we “Best If Used By” so you know the bar is at its tastiest before the date. If you have some older bars you perhaps forgot about, don’t throw them out! Repurpose them by blending them into a smoothie, crumbling them on top of vegan ice cream, or mixing them into yogurt.

The Nutrition Facts and Best By date of a BumbleBar

On the other hand, “Use By” means the product is perishable. The food or drink should be consumed by the date and thrown out once the date has passed. 

You can reduce food waste by still finishing foods that have passed their “Best If Used By” date. Better yet, don’t let your food expire at all!

Waste-Reducing Tools

Guess what? There’s an app for that. And this handy dandy food storage chart, too

The FoodKeeper app provides a complete guide to how long different foods can be stored in the fridge, freezer, or pantry. You can also use the app to set up notifications to alert you when items you have are nearing the end of the recommended storage date.  FoodKeeper also has advice on how to cook foods safely and avoid food-borne illnesses. 

Other apps have been launched over the last few years to combat food waste. Some help you swap leftovers with neighbors. Some show you where you can get half-priced restaurant or cafe food if they have a surplus heading for the garbage. Some let you purchase reduced-priced items at grocery stores that are nearing expiration. Unfortunately, some of these apps are only in certain cities so far. Hopefully, this will be a widespread norm soon.

Produce in a grocery basket

Other Ways to Do Your Part

Here are a few other tips for reducing your food waste and making life easier for our beautiful planet:

  • Don’t buy foods in bulk that you won’t for sure use. It’s true buying bulk can save you money, but make sure you have big plans to use all that up.
  • Plan your meals. When you plan your meals, you can make your grocery store list with only the things you will need for the recipes you chose. That way, your hungry self isn’t just grabbing things off of shelves randomly. You’ll end up with a bunch of items that might not go together and you might not eat quickly enough. 
  • Upcycle your leftovers. So now you have leftovers, and you’re not so keen on eating the same thing again. You can seal it up and stick it in the freezer for a later date. Or you can repurpose them into a new dish. I like doing something simple, like throwing leftover protein and veggies into a breakfast egg scramble. You can also bake them into a casserole or toss them onto a salad. Websites like MyFridge, SuperCook (there’s also an app), and BigOven let you select ingredients you have and generate a plethora of recipes that incorporate them all!
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