Nudge your favorite cafe to waste less food.
Maybe you saw the recent episode of Last Week Tonight with Jon Oliver, where he tackles the issue of food waste. Like all their episodes, behind the laughs is a serious issue with far-reaching effects.
By some estimations, Americans waste up to 40% of the food we buy. That’s not just a problem for our wallets:
- Huge amounts of water and other resources are required to produce that wasted food.
- Over 48 million Americans are living in food insecure households.
- The 33 million tons of food waste entering our landfills every year is turned into methane gas, which is has a potential warming effect on our planet of 21 times that of carbon dioxide.
Restaurants are a staggeringly huge part of the food waste problem. According to a study by the University of Arizona, full service restaurants produce 49,296,540 lbs of wasted food per day, while fast food restaurants produce 85,063,390 lbs.
What can restaurants do about it?
The biggest thing, according to the EPA’s Food Recovery Hierarchy is to reduce food at the source. If so much food is going to waste, why not just purchase and prepare less of it?
One major problem is the oversized portions that the US is unfortunately so well known for. Diners want to get their money’s worth, which leads to restaurants providing outsized portions just to make people happy.
There are a couple solutions for restaurants. One is to provide half-sized portion options for diners with smaller appetites. Another is to serve more modest portions on smaller plates, so that they still come across as generous. Given the obesity epidemic in the US, smaller portions aren’t just more economical, they’re healthier to boot.
Once the food has been purchased and is in the restaurant, waste recovery strategies are needed. Donating food to feed hungry people and animals are the next levels in the hierarchy. This can be done with excess produce and other goods that are still safe to eat, but won’t be used in the restaurant — but if food has already been on a diner’s plate, the last option is composting.
For other strategies to reduce food waste — both as a restaurant, and as a consumer — check out the organization End Food Waste Now. To learn more about reducing paper waste, look for our next post on demanding digital receipts.
It’s time to do something about food waste
At Sendvote we nudge our favorite restaurants to do more to prevent unnecessary food waste by reducing plate sizes, donating perishable food, and composting leftovers.
Go to Sendvote today and join your voice with others around this important issue. Click to vote on an existing opinion, or add your own if you don’t see your favorite restaurant already listed. With all our voices together, we can make our opinions be known, and make a difference.
(P.S. Want to really dive into the subject of food waste? Check out Jonathan Bloom’s book, American Wasteland.)