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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Thursday, December 18, 2014
Gabby Byrne, Solid Waste Division Education & Outreach Specialist at (360) 867-2284 or ByrneG@co.thurston.wa.us

Don't Trash Your Cash This Holiday Season—Waste Less Food!
Give yourself the gift of savings with tips and tricks for wasting less holiday food

We all know that wasting food is a bad idea, but many of us don't realize the extent to which we waste, especially during the holidays. The average American family of four throws out about 25 percent of the food they buy, to the tune of around $130 each month. And according to the World Watch Institute, we typically waste three times more food during the holiday season!

But you can give yourself the gift of savings this holiday by following a few simple tips that will help you waste less food and save more money:
  • Be realistic about how much you really need to cook. Estimate the headcount and use an online portions planner. If you're hosting a party, it's okay to run out of a dish or two. There are other tasty options, and your guests are there for the company.

  • Carefully plan the entire meal and make a shopping list that includes quantities for each ingredient. Check your cupboards, fridge and freezer before you shop so you'll know what you already have at home.

  • Consider using smaller plates and smaller serving utensils. This slows down the folks whose eyes are bigger than their stomachs. Guests can take smaller servings of each dish and go back for seconds or thirds.

  • Plan out what to do with the leftovers. If you want to donate to a church or food bank, call ahead for their hours of operation, and get information about critical safe food handling requirements. Send party-goers home with their favorites with a promise to eat them. Make sure you have the needed "to go" supplies.

  • Store your leftover food in clear or well labeled containers. If it's not going to be eaten right away, use your freezer. Plan what you can make with leftovers. Websites like www.bigoven.com let you enter multiple ingredients you want to use, and then up pop recipes.

  • Have a potluck where family and friends all bring leftovers—it's an excuse for another party!

Unfortunately, the negative impacts of wasting food go beyond just your wallet:
  • Wasted food is responsible for 135 million tons of greenhouse gases every year—that makes wasted food the third largest producer of greenhouse gases in the world after the U.S. and China!

  • About 10 percent of our energy and 25 percent of our fresh water in the U.S. is used to grow food that doesn't get eaten.

  • A single pound of turkey meat uses resources equivalent to driving 11 miles to take a 130 minute shower, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council.

  • While food is being wasted all across America, 50 million Americans go hungry and do not have access to enough food.

As the new year approaches, resolve to cut down on wasted food and bulk up on your cash savings even after the holidays are over. Many of the things you do to waste less food at the holidays will work anytime—have a leftovers night once a week; plan your menus, and plan your shopping better; and use clear containers in your fridge. For more tips, ideas, research and conversation on the topic of wasting food, visit www.wastelessfood.com and Waste Less Food on Facebook, where you can also subscribe to The Clean Plate e-newsletter.

To learn more about the county's Waste Less Food campaign, or to schedule a fun and free group presentation for your school, office, church, or community group, contact Gabby Byrne at ByrneG@co.thurston.wa.us or call (360) 867-2284.


County Commissioners:

Carolina Mejia
District 1

Gary Edwards
District 2

Tye Menser
District 3