A Wildlife-friendly New Year’s Resolution

Commit to beat food waste in 2018

We were taught to clean our plates as children because others were starving. I had to eat Brussels sprouts for breakfast if I didn’t eat them at dinner. Because, while we waste food, one in seven Americans go hungry.

Globally one in every nine people is starving or malnourished, including children. And the average American wastes one in four grocery bags of food they purchase.

In fact, we waste 40 percent of the food we produce as a nation. That has a huge impact on the planet. Wasting food means we waste the natural resources that went into making it. We’re destroying wildlife habitats, creating pollution and greenhouse gases, and draining water from our Earth when we throw away food.

But this is a problem we can fix: Wasting less food can help protect wildlife and wildlife, and fight climate change. If all Americans cut their food waste in half, it would be like taking 1.8 million cars off the road.

Luckily we don’t have to eat sprouts for breakfast. There are many ways to make a difference. From shopping smarter to cooking more cleverly, our homes are the perfect places to take a whack out of wasted food.

This fall, Americans across the country participated in the Beat Food Waste Challenge, organized by the Center for Biological Diversity’s Take Extinction Off Your Plate campaign. 1,000 people pledged to cut their food waste in half, and they did an incredible job. Still, it’s easier said than done when you’re trying to break habits around food.

From the challenge, we learned that some of the biggest obstacles to fighting food waste at home are finding creative ways to use leftovers or soft produce, organizing the fridge so food is in plain sight and doesn’t go bad, buying with the right amount of veggies so fewer are wasted, practicing smarter meal planning, and reducing meat consumption overall.

To help overcome these obstacles, we designed a series of Beat Food Waste guides:

· A wildlife-friendly Shopping Guide,

· An Earth-friendly Cooking Guide, and

· A Fridge Guide that helps you save the planet.

Even if you enjoyed a waste-free, wildlife-friendly holiday, pledging to waste less food all year-round can save you money while you’re helping build a better food system.

With the holidays coming to a close, now is the time to think about resolutions and how we want to change our habits in the coming year to improve ourselves and the environment. Let’s start in our homes and with our meal plans: Make a resolution to cut food waste in half.

Starting with our personal habits can make a big difference, but we recognize that this problem is larger than what you do or don’t toss at home. Food waste needs to be tackled throughout the system, by grocery stores, restaurants and everyone in the food production and service industry.

From college campuses to casual dining, from supermarkets to sports arenas — if industries committed to zero food waste, our food system would lean into the future more equitably and sustainably. And that’s a future we should all resolve to support.

Jennifer Molidor is the senior food campaigner for the Center for Biological Diversity.