In the workplace, discussing food waste reduction is one of the best ways to honor the earth while also celebrating Earth Day. As a team, come together to learn about ways to save money and eat consciously this Earth Day, which falls on April 22.
Not surprisingly, daily, at least one pound of food is wasted per person in America.
This article will help you and your employees look at ways to minimize the food waste problem at both home and at work. Celebrate the beautiful world in which we live and help your employees learn a bit more about being eco-conscious (and healthier!) this Earth Day.
Here’s a look at how your employees can celebrate Earth Day at home and work and reduce food waste.
1. Upcycle Food
You’ve heard of upcycling old, unwanted furniture. What about doing the same to reduce food waste at home? That is, using food scraps like veggie peels for veggie stock. Next time you peel carrots, potatoes, onions, etc., save the scraps and freeze them until you have enough to make tasty veggie stock!
In the workplace: Share information about the Upcycled Food Foundation and how to become a member.
Can’t get on board with using veggie scraps and upcycling for future food? Give your scraps back to the earth by composting. If you love to garden, your plants will enjoy the fertile soil that comes from composting. Learn more about the composting process here.
In the workplace: Set up an easy way for individuals to bring in composting scraps to use in a company garden if your company has one.
3. Try “Ugly Food”
Not all produce that comes from the earth looks perfect. In fact, most grocery stores have high standards for the “look” of the produce that can go on the shelves. Even perfectly fine foods can end up in the garbage. Companies like Misfits Market rescues “ugly” produce that isn’t marketable and shiny enough for the stores and sells it at a reduced cost to consumers — often organic. Hello, healthier food!
In the workplace: Raffle off subscriptions to “ugly food” subscription boxes to go along with any nutrition or wellness challenges your company is running.
4. Avoid Buying Too Much
Perhaps one of the best ways to avoid food waste is to only buy what’s needed. In many countries outside of America, the fridges are much smaller. That means multiple trips to the grocer throughout the week and thoughtful meal planning. Take a few shopping trips during the week and see how it reduces your food waste instead of doing your usual once-a-week grocery trip.
In the workplace: With the popularity of grocery store pickups comes an increase in grocery shopping errors, too. Avoid throwing away extra or incorrect food orders and create a box for food pantry donations in your workplace.
5. Create a Company Garden
Looking for a creative wellness initiative? Consider starting a company garden this spring. It’s the perfect way to include exercise, nutrition lessons, and outdoor time into one wellness campaign. Create a gardening committee to ensure that once the campaign is over, the weeds don’t overtake the green space.
In the workplace: Learn from the TotalWellness staff experience of how to start a community garden.
6. Grow Your Own Garden
Gardening is not only great exercise, but it’s also an excellent way to reduce food waste! When you have your own garden, you can plant what you need and use it as your recipes call for it. Plus, you can easily replant veggie seeds like avocados, bell peppers, etc. from store-bought ones to grow your own and pick fresh food from your garden! How rewarding is that?
In the workplace: Have a local plant nursery owner come teach a gardening 101 class for creating a garden of any shape or size that includes nutritious fruits and veggies. Tie it into a lunch and learn event and consider catering lunch from a local farm-to-table restaurant.
7. Store Food Correctly
One of the biggest ways to waste food is to not store it correctly. How many bags of salad have you thrown away in the last year because it got soggy? Avoid washing produce before refrigeration. Items like lettuce do well being rinsed and dried thoroughly before being wrapped in paper towels and placed in a plastic bag. Ensure that your fridge is set at 40 degrees or below to keep food fresh; buy a fridge thermometer to be safe. Skip putting whole metal cans (cranberry sauce, tuna, etc.) in the fridge and instead store them in clear, glass containers to avoid a metallic taste in your food. Eat food within three to five days to avoid spoilage.
In the workplace: Hosting a nutrition challenge? Raffle off glass food storage containers and a grocery gift card as a prize for those participating!
8. Organize Your Food Spaces
Make a pact with yourself and your family members: Always eat the oldest foods first in the fridge. This will keep you from tossing out foods that get shoved into the back and forgotten about. When you store your food correctly (see above), it also makes it easier to organize it and consume it in a reasonable time frame. Take the time to organize your pantry and fridge on a weekly basis (preferably before grocery shopping), to see what you have and what you actually need.
In the workplace: Everyone loves a good before and after challenge. Set up a mini health and Earth Day challenge for your office when it comes to organizing food spaces. Have your team take before and after pics of their fridge and pantry and share them on an internal communication channel for fun. Raffle off a grocery gift card in a drawing for those who participate.
9. Make a Shopping List
It’s always a good idea to plan ahead. That especially goes for reducing your carbon footprint and reducing food waste. Next time you need to grocery shop, make a list. Create it based on your favorite healthy snacks, go-to recipes, and your meal plan for the next few days. Most importantly, don’t go food shopping hungry — you’ll end up buying more than you need every single time.
In the workplace: Set up a shopping health challenge like Supermarket Sweep for your employees. Set a budget and two teams to “race” through the grocery store to create the healthiest meal they can think of off the top of their heads. No Googling and no recipe books allowed. Head back to the office for a “cook-off” and lunch celebrating nutrition. You may opt to do a “raw only” recipe if your office doesn’t have an oven or stovetop.
Reduce Food Waste to Do Your Part for Earth Day
This Earth Day, you can talk about the wellness of the earth and human body by starting the discussions around nutrition that also include food waste reduction.
The above ideas are just a starting list for mindful ways to eat well while also reducing food waste.
Bring the discussion up as a way to talk about creative ways to solve it in the workplace and at home. It is possible to do both. The website FoodPrint offers a variety of resources that can provide talking points for discussion on food waste and its impact on the environment and its implications in both business and household settings.
Together, see how your team can come up with a collaborative effort to reduce even more waste in your company kitchen. The creativity of your employees and their take on reducing food waste may just surprise you.
How will you celebrate Earth Day at work? Share in the comments below!