Governor Kate Brown has proclaimed April 4 – 8, 2022 to be Food Waste Prevention Week, and the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality is encouraging everyone living across the state to take simple steps to reduce waste and save money. Reducing food waste matters for a variety of reasons, including:
- Up to 35% of all food in the U.S. is wasted and costs every Oregon household $1,800 per year on average (The EPA recently updated this figure from $1,600)
- Food accounts for the second highest contribution to greenhouse gases by Oregon residents
- Preventing one ton of food from being wasted reduces significantly more greenhouse gases than simply keeping food waste out of landfills
- Seventy percent of food Oregon households throw out could have been eaten had it not been allowed to spoil. This food differs from the peels, bones and shells that clearly couldn’t be eaten
“This week is about highlighting the importance of reducing food waste to ensure fuller wallets and reduced harm to our environment,” says Elaine Blatt, senior policy analyst at DEQ. “By focusing on preventing food waste, we hope Oregon households will learn approaches they can use now and in the future to save money and protect our planet.”
There are many steps you can take to reduce food waste. Consider trying some of the following:
- Store food that will go bad soonest in a visible part of the fridge or pantry
- Know how and where to store food properly so it lasts longer (visit dontletgoodfoodgobad.org for specific tips on different types of food)
- Keep track of what you have at home or what you need to use up before it goes bad
- Create meals from what you have on hand
- Finish all your leftovers
- Freeze for later use
- Monitor the temperature in the fridge to make sure it’s at the best setting to preserve your food
- Check your refrigerator and pantry before you shop
During Food Waste Prevention Week, our partners at Save the Food Florida are running a fun twist on a traditional game. It’s called Bad Apple Bingo! Just save the photo below (or take a screenshot) and mark your bingo card with the action you take each day. Then repost using #savethefoodfl and tagging @SavetheFoodFL to be eligible to win! Aren’t into social media? No problem. Print the card and use it as a guide for how to fight food waste at home.
There’s more good news too! In the run-up to Food Waste Prevention Week, students around the country recently participated in the FOOD FUTURE HACK-A-THON. This contest challenged students to compete with their peers to solve a food waste challenge in a virtual invention marathon culminating with the presentation of a short, 2-3 minute video illustrating each team’s solutions.
The Eco Reps Team from Oregon State University won an award in the “Best Idea” category. Their project, “Crop Circle”, outlines an innovative program connecting farms and schools to bring fresh fruits and vegetables to schools.
Finally, there are other ways to participate in Food Waste Prevention Week. These include more games and challenges, K-12 student engagement contests, invention marathons and presentations with special guests, including celebrated local chefs and elected officials. Visit www.foodwastepreventionweek.com for all the details.
By Julie Miller, communications specialist, Materials Management, Oregon DEQ