Food Waste Prevention


Did you know?

  • Americans waste about 40% of food produced for consumption.
  • This equals about $165 billion each year (as much as $2,275 for a family of four).
  • Of that food tossed out, 97% ends up in a landfill.
  • 25% of U.S. freshwater and 4% of U.S. oil consumption goes to produce food that gets wasted.
  • Americans waste, on average, 1,400 calories per person every day, enough to feed more than the one billion hungry people worldwide.

Consumers in the US spend approximately $200 billion a year producing over 50 million tons of food that will ultimately never be eaten, and another $10 million a year on food that is left unharvested or discarded for purely cosmetic reasons. Implementing sensible, cost-saving measures by reducing unnecessary purchasing and limiting waste in home kitchens can save the average Oregon family over $1600 dollars a year.

Take the Food Waste Challenge: Many of us don’t realize how much food we throw away. Consider measuring your food waste for one week or even just one day. Use a bucket or bowl with a lid and instead of throwing your food scraps or spoiled food in the garbage, place them in the bin. Chances are, you’ll be surprised at how much ends up in there. Then, try any of the food waste prevention tips we have here and see if you can reduce how much food you throw away. Reducing your food waste footprint saves time, money, and the planet.

Eugene tosses 40 million pounds of food into the local landfill each year. Half of this food waste comes from homes. The other half comes from commercial food-generating businesses. When food waste goes to the landfill its breakdown creates harmful greenhouse gas emissions. 

Food waste is not an issue confined to Eugene. Half of the produce grown in the U.S. is trashed because it’s bruised, misshapen, discolored or has some other deformity that does not in any way compromise its food safety. While all this food goes to waste, 1 in 6 Oregonians go hungry. In the United States, an estimated 20-40% of food never makes it to the grocery store – mostly because of excessively strict cosmetic standards. Globally, a third of all the food produced in the world is never consumed. 

Food waste creates huge issues both locally and abroad.  We support efforts to combat our global food waste epidemic and draw awareness to food that is wasted throughout the supply chain. Here are some area resources that are working to reduce food waste associated with cosmetically challenged food items:

Imperfect Produce 

Willamette Farm & Food Coalition 

Food for Lane County

Eugene Area Gleaners

Benefits of Reducing Wasted Food

  1. Saves Money: Wasting less food means you are buying less food.
  2. Reduces Methane Emissions: Cutting back on food waste means less food being sent to the landfill and creating methane, a very harmful greenhouse gas. It also means less resources being used to ship and transport that food!
  3. Conserves Energy and Resources: Lots of energy goes into growing, manufacturing, transporting, and selling food that is never eaten. We can reduce energy at every point in the process by saving food.
  4. Supports Your Community: Instead of wasting food, you can help your community by donating unused food to families in need.

Food Waste Prevention Tips

Shop Smart

  • Make a shopping list.
  • Buy only what you need.
  • Shop your fridge and cupboards first.

Store Smart

  • Learn which fruits and vegetables stay fresh longer inside or outside the fridge. View our food storage tips sheet!
  • Use storage containers designed to help extend the life of your produce.
  • Use your freezer, especially for foods you can’t eat in time.

Smart Prep

  • Prep fruits and vegetables right when you get home from the store.
  • Prepare and freeze meals ahead of time.

Save Smart

  • Move food likely to spoil sooner to the front of the fridge or create a specific "eat this first" area.
  • Create interesting and fun new dishes using leftovers from the week!
  • Learn the difference between "sell-by," "use-by," and "best-by" expiration dates.