According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the average American wastes about one pound of food per day. When food is wasted, so is the money you spent on it and all of the resources that went into growing and transporting it. So limiting your food waste can help you reduce waste and your carbon footprint while saving you money. Take some time to reflect on your practices around preparing and disposing of food, and make a few small changes to reduce the amount of food waste you send to the landfill!
1) Do a “Sniff Test” Before Tossing Food Past Its Sell-by Date
The “sell by” and “consume by” dates on food containers are recommendations for when your food will taste best, not safety requirements. Tons of food go to waste because it’s assumed to have gone bad by the dates stamped on the side, but a simple “sniff test” and visual inspection can prove otherwise and extend the life of foods.
2) Plan and Prepare Meals in Advance
Cooking and packing a lunch from home is not only good for reducing food waste, but it’s good for your health and wallet as well. So challenge yourself to skip that daily lunch run this month by preparing your meals in advance.
By predetermining recipes to meal prep, you’ll be able to easily make a shopping list and prevent yourself from over-shopping items that will end up going bad or going to waste. The best way to meal prep is to set aside time for yourself to prepare your meals in bulk—scheduling in a couple hours for yourself on a Sunday afternoon to cook your to-go, pre-prepped lunches for the week will eliminate those stressful moments scrambling for lunch at work or school.
3) Compost Your Food Scraps
Have you ever thought about how much of your trash is food waste? If you’re like most Philadelphians, it’s probably a lot. This trash costs Philadelphia taxpayers money and contributes to climate change. Composting organic materials (like food scraps and yard waste) is a great way to keep organic waste out of landfills, and it also creates material that can be added to soil to help plants grow.
Interested in composting as a Philadelphia resident? There are several options, including composting at home, using a compost collection service, or bringing your compost to a community drop-off site.
Compost at Home
One option is to compost your food waste right in your own yard. Visit our Backyard Composting 101 Guide to learn how to set up a home composting system.
Compost Collection Service
If you have limited outdoor space, using a compost collection service could be a great option for you. There are several companies that offer residential compost collection service in Philadelphia. Visit our list of local compost haulers (click the “Food Waste” link) to find a compost hauler that suits your needs.
Leaf & Yard Waste Drop Off
Philadelphia Parks & Recreation’s Fairmount Park Organic Recycling Center and the Streets Department’s sanitation convenience centers allow Philadelphia residents to drop off leaf and yard waste for composting. The Streets Department’s six sanitation convenience centers accept yard waste, which must be free of contamination and contained in paper bags only. See a list of Sanitation Convenience Center locations.
4) Make Use of Your Garbage Disposal
Many Philadelphia residential buildings have in-sink garbage disposals, and all new residential construction is required to include garbage disposal systems. But how often do residents put these to use, and why are garbage disposals important?
Putting your garbage disposal to use can help divert waste away from the trash. The food waste sent down your in-sink garbage disposal is processed into renewable energy that powers Philadelphia’s wastewater treatment facilities. So by putting your garbage disposal to use, you’re not only reducing the trash you have to lug curbside each week, but you’re also helping Philadelphia become a cleaner and more sustainable city.
5) Clean Out Your Cupboard—Donate Unopened Packaged Food
Want to donate unopened packaged food, but not sure how? Here’s a list of local pick-up and drop-off food donation entities as well as online databases with even more resources!
Local Donation Entities
Food Recovery Network | Pick-up | Site
Philabundance | Pick-up and Drop-off | 215-339-0900 | Site | 3616 S. Galloway St. Philadelphia, PA 19148
Project HOME | Drop-off | 215-232-7272 x4483 | Site | 1515 Fairmount Ave. Philadelphia, PA 19130
Online Databases for Finding Local Food Pantries