How much food do people waste in a year? While the world wastes about 1.4 billion tons of food yearly, the United States discards more food than any other country: nearly 40 million tons — 80 billion pounds — every year. That is estimated to be 30-40 percent of the entire U.S. food supply, equaling 219 pounds of waste per person. Food waste is not just a social or humanitarian concern but also an environmental issue. When we waste food, we also waste the energy and water it takes to grow, harvest, transport, and package it. In addition, when food is thrown out in the garbage, goes to a landfill, and rots, it produces methane, a greenhouse gas. According to the World Wildlife Foundation, 6-8% of greenhouse gas emissions are caused by waste food.
There are plenty of ways to combat food waste, but two key factors that are often overlooked are your fridge’s size and how you use your refrigerator. Here are 5 tips to reduce food waste using your fridge.
Get the Right Size Fridge
Multiple studies to combat food waste have been proposed. However, one key area to consider is the fridge. Re-imaging how we use the refrigerator can significantly contribute to a reduction in food waste. As Jennifer Marston of The Spoon found out in her research on consumer food waste innovation, the sheer size of most modern refrigerators encourages waste. Consumers tend to push older items to the back, forgetting and ultimately having to discard these food items.
“A compact or midsize fridge provides an alternative to families to help cut down on food waste. That is why at Danby, we look to deliver best-in-class midsize refrigeration, which is energy-efficient, functional, and practical! Danby’s 10.1 cu. ft. (286 L) mid-size refrigerator provides the required solution. With adjustable glass shelves to custom arrange your fridge to suit your needs, to dedicated veggie crispers that are covered to regulate humidity, and integrated door shelving, this unit affords you a lot of options without the worry of waste” says Temi Afolabi, Danby’s Wine & Bev, Midsize Refrigeration Product Manager.
Regardless of what kind of refrigerator you have or how big it is, you should always keep its temperature at 40˚F (4˚C) or below. For freezers, the ideal temperature is 0˚F (-17.7˚C) or below. When considering where to place your food, it is crucial to know where your cooling element is located. If certain foods are placed too close to this element—primarily produce—the extreme cold will freeze your food and likely spoil it.
Organize Your Fridge
One of the top ways to reduce food waste is to organize your fridge. Certain food groups and beverages require refrigeration to prevent spoilage and maximize freshness. Understand how to organize your fridge properly on our blog.
Utilize the Freezer
Does your refrigerator have freezer space as well? A freezer can be a budget shopper’s best friend if you’re looking for ways to save money on rising food prices. Buy in bulk, and freeze additional leftovers, pasta sauce, meat, and more in your primary or secondary freezer. Freezing additional items is a great economical way to extend your food supply and avoid food waste.
Label food containers with the name and date you made them before putting them in the fridge. Leftovers are safe in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. If you don’t have a chance to eat leftovers within this timeframe, move them to the freezer.