By Alexandra Few
Did you know around $31 billion worth of food is wasted in Canada each year? In Toronto alone, the average single family household throws out 275kg of food a year, which is valued at $1500; that’s your money being thrown in the garbage! Here are five tips you can use right now so you can stop throwing away your money and save the environment while you’re at it.
1. Show Love to All Produce
Just because your produce has a small bruise, does not mean it’s not perfectly safe to eat!
FlashFood is a company that collects surplus produce that might otherwise not be purchased from grocery stores, and then sells it to consumers through their produce boxes.
According to FlashFood: “Grocery stores have a very specific guideline as to their aesthetic and how produce should look. It’s a bit more of a marketing ploy as far as a grocery guideline is concerned and we’ve been taught that produce has to look this way in order for it to be fresh and consumable. But in reality none of that is true.”
The environmental element of consuming this produce is significant, as FlashFood states: “You’re saving food from going to a landfill, for one, and secondly there’s nothing really wrong with the produce, it’s totally consumable, totally fresh… it might just be a different shape which you’re not used to, maybe.”
This small change can make a big impact, as you’re saving that item from going into the landfill and also saving money by not throwing it out.
2. Donate Your Excess Food to Food Banks
Donating food you end up not consuming is a great way to limit your personal food waste, while also providing opportunity to feed someone less fortunate.
Food banks accept personal donations and work with a variety of organizations that help contribute and distribute food. Second Harvest, for instance, is Canada’s largest food organization and works in collaboration with a variety of food banks and other social agencies.
Kiera Toffelmire, Senior Manager - Programs and Community Relations, Second Harvest, discussed the organization’s contributions to food banks in the city. Kiera said: “We rescue food from across the supply chain that would otherwise go to waste for a variety of reasons - whether that’s over production of a certain product, misspelled labels; the food is perfectly edible.”
Last year, Second Harvest also launched a virtual way for food businesses to donate their food through this platform. Kiera said this would give the ability to agencies and food businesses to capture data and track how many pounds of greenhouse gas they helped reduce.
Realizing the importance of donating excess food which helps organizations such as Second Harvest and others in the city, is a great first step in reducing personal food waste, as well as Toronto’s food waste as a whole. To find a food bank closest to you click here.
3. It’s All About Prep
Preparing food ahead of time is a simple way to visually see how much food you are actually consuming and a great way to limit any excess.
Charlotte Ueta, Director - Policy, Planning, and Support for Solid Waste Management Services, City of Toronto, discussed the implementation of Love Food Hate Waste Canada.
The initiative provides tips on how to “reduce food waste with meal prep, using recipes, leftovers, and canning and preserving” for Torontonians. One of the key purposes is to raise awareness of the amount of surplus being dumped at landfills, along with educating Torontonians to utilize their food to reduce waste.
A great way to implement this tip is to buy already sectioned-off containers, that way you can plan how you want to fill them. Don’t be afraid to change them up as well! Be creative and save money!
4. Use Your Green Bin
Emptying out scraps of food in your Green Bin is an easy way to not feel bad about throwing away food.
According to the City of Toronto’s website, almost 50% of household waste is organic material and without using the Green Bin that material will end up clogging landfills.
Confused on what exactly to put in your Green Bin? Use this handy generator called the Waste Wizard where you can type in any product you’re not sure about, and it will tell you if it goes in the Green Bin or not. For a new bin or if you need a replacement, contact 311.
Don’t go another day contributing to landfills when you can be contributing to your Green Bin instead!
5. Organize Your Fridge by ‘Best Before’ Dates
This is an easy tip to reinforce, similar to tip #4 - it gives you a great visual. Organizing your fridge by putting products that need to be consumed right away in the front, and putting products that can last a while in the back, provides a great way to keep track on what you’re eating and buying. You can personalize it further by adding clear containers or labels to add to the organizing goodness. Challenge yourself to make a meal with food that is going to expire soon and see just how easy it is!
Incorporate these five quick and easy tips in your daily habits and you’ll find yourself wasting less food than before. Your wallet and Toronto’s landfill will thank you!