The Zero Waste Trash Challenge: Our Personal Food Crisis

A moment on the lips. An eternity where? Food waste is a big deal for your pantry, budget and the planet. 

You’re not going to love this week’s challenge. Next time you visit the grocery store I want you to come home and before you take the bags inside to the kitchen toss half of them into the trash can. That’s right; if you’ve bought four bags, throw two away. If you’ve bought eight bags, chuck out four of them. You get the picture.

Crazy right?

Well according to a recent report by the Natural Resources Defense Council, this is exactly what we’re doing because Americans waste every other mouthful of food.

Stop for a moment. Don’t just read on, stuffing this golden McNugget of information into a brain where it doesn’t touch the sides. Stop. Think. Feel…

Every. Other. Mouthful.


Three out of six grocery bags.

Has it sunk in yet? Have you tasted the ridiculousness of the situation we’re in?

Many people make the assumption that tossing food in a landfill is ok; it’s a natural product that composts down. The trouble is when air doesn’t get to the food (such as when it’s been wrapped in a plastic bag and has a ton of other stuff sitting on top of it in a landfill site) it decomposes and produces methane gas instead. Hello global warming!

But it’s not just that, is it? What a terrible waste of resources – resources you might not even think about such as water, fertilizers, pesticides, fungicides, packaging, transportation, energy to run greenhouses… then there’s your money; money you’ve worked hard to earn, perhaps you’ve sat at your desk and missed your child take his first steps so that you can throw money away on food you toss in the garbage can.

This month, I’m asking you to rise to the challenge of overhauling your food habits. Traditionally autumn is the time of harvest where long hours would be spent picking, storing and preserving foods for the winter. With supermarket shopping available to us 24/7 we no longer need to worry about harvesting; we simply go out and buy more. I’m not asking you to go back to living off the land, but to be more reverent about food in general.

We’re told we will face food shortages in our lifetime but I’m not so sure. Maybe if people in the Western world were more thoughtful and less hasty there would be enough to feed everyone for a very long time.

Here are six ideas for reducing food waste to get you started.

  • Start your day with a smoothie made from anything going wrinkly in the fruit bowl
  • Use your leftovers in the following day’s lunch box – rice or pasta salads are delicious
  • Menu plan; brainstorm your family’s favorite meals and plan this week’s meals around them
  • Make old veggies into soup or pasta sauces
  • Don’t shop when you’re hungry; seriously – you’ll end up buying more than you need
  • Never judge a book by its cover; we’ve been conditioned to judge everything by appearance but check out this brown banana and moldy pineapple

I know you creative people out there have plenty more to share. Let me know what you’re planning in the comments below!