I bet we’ve all had the experience of standing over the trash can, staring at what was once a tasty-looking snack, entrée or piece of fruit before we forgot about it and let it get scary in the back of our fridge. We’ve kicked ourselves over money spent on food we end up tossing out and pledged to do better the following week.
Just over 40 percent of all the food that goes to waste in the United States gets wasted in our homes. It’s nothing more and nothing less than you and me throwing food into the trash, down the disposer, or onto the compost pile. And when food goes to waste, so does everything it took to get it to our plates—water, land, energy, labor and money. The good news is that this means that we, as individuals and families, can make a big dent in the problem just by taking small steps in our daily lives to keep more food out of the trash.
NRDC, in partnership with Ad Council, is here to help. Last year, we launched the “Save The Food” national public service campaign. Save The Food aims to help consumers recognize the problem and inspire them to take action. If you haven’t already seen our videos, caught the action on social media, or seen Save The Food signs on billboards or busses, be on the lookout! Cities, businesses, universities and others across the country—from San Diego to Minneapolis to Nashville—are diving in.
Together, we’re having an impact. New survey data from Ad Council shows that since our campaign launched, awareness is growing nationwide, specifically among moms and millennials – our target audiences. Now, more than half the population strongly agrees that food waste is a big problem, and nearly 90 percent of people who have seen the PSA videos have taken steps to reduce their food waste. Yes! And what will be the topic of discussion at your next dinner party? Two-thirds of people who are aware of the campaign report talking about food waste with their friends and family—more than twice those who aren’t familiar with it.
Chef Dan Barber in new video PSA for Save The Food campaign
Today, we’re seeking to build on that progress by launching phase two of the campaign. The second phase comes with more tools to raise consumer awareness about the problem and empower people to take action in their own lives.
For starters, we’re excited to partner with renowned Blue Hill and Blue Hill Stone Barns chef Dan Barber. Dan stars in a new Save The Food video where he surprises a couple at home to show them how to transform those often-forgotten food scraps into a delicious meal. The hope is that he will inspire home chefs to challenge themselves to get creative and do the same.
In addition to the video, we’re launching a new Save The Food Skill for Alexa—Amazon’s voice-controlled virtual personal assistant that provides users the ability to dictate commands, search the web and more. Now, saving the food is as easy as asking Alexa where to store the strawberries you just brought home, or how to tell if that yogurt is still safe to eat. Need a recipe to use up those browning bananas? Alexa can help with that too. You can watch the demo here.
NRDC has also updated our landmark Wasted report, which helped spark a national conversation about food waste when it was released five years ago. In the five years since, there’s been so much progress ranging from panning the corporate sector to cities, states, consumers, and even international action to reduce the amount of food we waste. Our second edition of Wasted explores how far we’ve come and where we need to go next. It includes updated statistics on the environmental, social and economic impact of food waste in the U.S., and recommendations for the pathway forward.
Personally, I love the Idea that I can minimize my environmental impact when I make sure that good food doesn’t go to waste—and I’m saving money at the same time. Save The Food is showing that being environmentally conscious and budget conscious go hand-in-hand and can be surprisingly fun! Find out for yourself—visit SaveTheFood.com for new food-saving tips, tricks, and recipes, and check out our new report to learn more about the “bigger picture” of wasted food from farm to fork.
If we all start making small changes in our daily lives, together we can make a big difference. Everyone who eats can be a part of the solution.