As inflation increases food prices, SWACO is renewing efforts to help families save money and reduce their reliance on the landfill by helping them avoid throwing leftovers and other food in the trash. “We may not be able to control rising gas and food prices,” said Joe Lombardi, SWACO’s Executive Director. “But each of us can commit to making the most of our resources and ease the burden felt by our family and the environment when food waste is sent to the landfill.”
Reducing food waste remains an important issue for Central Ohioans. In a public opinion poll conducted earlier this year, 83% of residents were concerned with the amount of food wasted every day in Central Ohio. A 2019 Waste Characterization Study published by SWACO documented that nearly a million pounds of food arrives at the County Landfill every day, and a large portion of that food comes from households.
Kyle O’Keefe, SWACO’s Director of Innovation and Programs, said the average Franklin County family is spending nearly $2,000 a year on food they purchase but never eat. “Leftovers and spoiled produce make up the majority of what individuals throw out,” continued O’Keefe. “Families can easily save money and keep unnecessary food waste out of a landfill by making small improvements in the way they manage food.”
SWACO’s Save More Than Food (SMTF) website offers ideas on making those simple and intentional steps part of anyone’s daily routine:
- Fridge Night prompts families to collect leftovers and look for creative ideas to bring them together. It also lets families properly freeze and date any leftovers a family can’t use.
- Label foods and leftovers that need to be eaten soon or place them within eyesight.
- Make leftovers new again by visiting SaveMoreThanFod.org to find a leftover recipe to demonstrate or try.
- Shopping more frequently and with a list reduces cost and waste. Creating meal plans makes those trips much easier.
- Proper food storage allows herbs, milk, cheese, fruits, and vegetables to have a much longer life in refrigerators.
SMTF pilot programs are already paying dividends, reducing household food waste by more than 20% in areas where food waste drop-off sites and educational programs that encourage food waste prevention are available.
The Central Ohio Food Waste Initiative published the Central Ohio Food Waste Action Plan in May 2019; it has 20 specific initiatives for preventing food waste, rescuing and redistributing edible food, and recycling food through composting and other technologies. Overall, the SMTF campaign hopes to help reduce food waste by 50% by 2030. “When families come together and use food responsibly, it creates better health, environmental, and economic outcomes,” said Lombardi. “We can blaze a trail toward a healthier future, one bite at a time.”