2. Don’t Waste Food

Make Food Waste Reduction Your Resolution in 2019

Do you keep breaking the same resolutions year after year? Try setting a new resolution starting in your refrigerator.

Food is the No.1 item Americans throw away. Each year up to 40 percent of the food supply in the U.S. is never consumed — an annual loss of $218 billion. Wasted food also wastes resources. Any labor, energy, water, land or other resources used to produce, package and transport food from the farm to our plates are lost. All this while 1 in 7 South Carolinians are food insecure not knowing where they will get their next meal.

Why are we wasting all this food? The U.S. spends less than any other country on its food supply, resulting in food being less valued and thrown away more. Food waste occurs at all levels of the system from farm to plate. Fields are left unharvested. Produce is rejected for cosmetic reasons. Restaurants serve extra-large portions. Above all, consumers leave food to spoil in the refrigerator.

Why not make food waste reduction one of YOUR 2019 resolutions?

Households are responsible for about 43 percent of all food waste in the U.S. – more than any other part of the food chain. Each of us throws away about 20 pounds of food per month. When we throw away food, we also waste our money – about $1,800 per year for a family of four.

The City of Columbia and the City’s Food Policy Committee are joining forces with SC DHEC and the Don’t Waste Food SC campaign to help prevent, donate and compost food waste.

Quick tips to prevent and reduce food waste at home:

1. Plan your meals.

See what you have to use at home first.

2. Shop smart.

Make a list and stick to it.

3. Prep smart and store smart.

Prepare perishable food soon after shopping, or do meal prepping. Freeze items to keep fresh. Do the FIFO: first in, first out.

4. Don’t fall for date labels.

Food does not magically spoil on the printed date.

5. Love your leftovers.

Ask for a doggie bag. Be creative to make new meals with leftovers.

6. Buy directly from local farmers.

You’ll get fresher food and keep your dollars in the community.

7. Donate non-perishable items.

Residents and restaurants can easily donate to local nonprofits under the federal Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act and state law. The Food Policy Committee is piloting an app for that!

8. Compost.

Backyard composting is nature’s way of recycling and provides you with a valuable product! Check with your local county or municipality for discounted compost bins.

In 2019, save yourself some money by getting back to the 3 R’s of reduce, reuse and recycle — even with food waste! Show us how you are fighting food waste on social media with the hashtag #DWFSC. For more resources, visit scdhec.gov/dontwastefoodsc.