When I was a child, my father liked to refer to any of his four children as “The Great Consumer” whenever we wasted things. You know how kids are: we piled our plates high, but ate less than half of the food we took. We constantly wanted more toys or clothes. And we left the lights on as we went from room to room.
These days, we’re all trying to crack down on expenses. You might start by looking in your own refrigerator. Wasted food is clogging up our landfills. According to the EPA, 31.7 million tons of food scraps were sent to landfills in 2007. That’s a lot of dry toast and bad meatloaf. Those 63 billion pounds of food sitting in landfills are creating methane gases in their decay, which is destroying our ozone layer and cause global warming.
Some folks are getting really creative with it. The online community is full of talk of people getting all their food out of dumpsters. They are “rescuing” vegetables, baked goods, and other items from refuse containers and using it in their diets. And they’re feeling good about it.
Other groups are taking in leftover baked goods from commercial bakeries and produce that has passed its prime and making meals for the homeless and lower income families. These food items are often very high quality, but since many Americans don’t like the label “day old,” these items are discarded and picked up by groups such as Forgotten Harvest as well as local and regional kitchens around the country.
What can you do? Focus on what you’re eating. Take leftovers to work for lunch. Make just what you need and eat what you make. You’ll be happier, less wasteful, and have a smaller carbon footprint. You also won’t have a father calling you “The Great Consumer” anymore.