Live it: Slash food waste
When the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) conducted a rigorous study to identify how much food is thrown away in the United States, the results were staggering: 40 percent. “That is on average 400 pounds of food per person every year,” wrote senior scientist Dana Gunders. “Not only is that irresponsible—it’s expensive. Growing, processing, transporting and disposing that uneaten food has an annual estimated cost of $218 billion, costing a household of four an average of $1,800 annually.”
Aside from crushing your monthly budget, food waste also takes a surprising environmental toll. Food that’s thrown away in oxygen-starved landfills doesn’t biodegrade. Rather, it releases the greenhouse gas methane, which the NRDC report gauges is the equivalent to adding 37 million cars on the road per year. Plus, when food is wasted, you’re also wasting all the water that went into growing the food.
More so than at restaurants, grocery stores or the farm, the largest amount of food waste occurs at home, which makes your actions a vital part of the solution. Fortunately, there are many resources that can make reducing food waste not just possible, but even fun.
In 2017 the NRDC teamed up with award-winning chef Dan Barber of Blue Hill at Stone Barns to create videos highlighting how to craft the odds and ends of vegetables into delectable dishes. “When we start to think differently about our food, we can get a lot more out of it,” Barber says in the video. The NRDC also launched a website savethefood.com that features a useful tool called the “Guest-Imator,” which helps you cook the right amount of food for dinner parties. And yes, you can have the option for leftovers, too.
Also visit deliciousliving.com/foodwaste, which features recipes that use up commonly discarded food pieces.
Live it: Go vegetarian a few days a week
We know, it can be tough to give up your ham-and-cheese morning sammie. But according to Project Drawdown, an organization that exhaustively tracks and ranks the top 100 solutions that can reduce carbon in the atmosphere, eating a plant-based diet is the fourth most-effective way you can mitigate climate change (right after reducing food waste). Remarkably, a 2016 report published by the World Resources Institute found that greenhouse-gas emissions could be reduced by as much as 70 percent if everyone in the world adopted a vegan diet.
Going entirely vegan is a big ask, however. But opting to eat plant-based a few days a week—or even a few meals per week—could profoundly reduce your personal carbon footprint. Plus, eating plant-based is often contagious among friend groups. To amplify your impact, start a once-per-month plant-based potluck club with your friends and family members to sample new vegetarian or vegan dishes. Gain inspiration from our meat-alternative recipes.