I have a confession: I throw away too much food.

It’s not something I do intentionally. Often it’s because I buy too much and it ends up going bad before I can eat it. In fact, I have a half-gallon of milk in my refrigerator right now that’s well past its expiration, and it’s not even open yet.

Now I’m looking to make a change, and you can too.

Last year, Charlotte Solid Waste Services launched a new initiative they call Healthy Communities. It’s part of a citywide effort to reduce the amount of food waste going to our landfills. It also seeks to increase the use of waste-diversion practices, such as reusing, recycling, upcycling and composting.

Healthy Communities has hosted a series of food demonstrations and classes. Attending them over the past few months has given me food for thought. I now have a fuller understanding of the impact my wasteful habits have on my health, my wallet and the environment we all share.

Consider these factiods

• In 2016, Charlotte landfills took in 1,719.9 pounds of garbage per single-family household.
• Sixty percent of that trash was food waste.
• That averages about $1,600 in wasted food for each household.

All that food simply rots away, generating methane gas and leachate, which pollute our environment and contribute to the occurrence of chronic diseases such as cancer, heart disease, stroke and kidney disease. According to the World Health Organization, environmental factors contribute to 23 percent of all deaths worldwide, and 36 percent of these deaths are children age 14 or younger.

That’s why I accepted the Healthy Communities’ Food Too Good To Waste Challenge.

Starting this week, I am committing to improving my health by eating more fruits and vegetables, shopping more efficiently and changing my waste habits.

A post shared by Solid Waste Services (@cltsws) on

Here’s how it works

The goal of the F2G2W Challenge is to see who can eliminate the most food waste over a six-week period. The untimate goal, of course, is to have those good habits stick.

Each week contestants will weigh their food waste and other trash separately and report their totals online. Each is given a 10-gallon trash bin and food scale to separate and weigh their trash.

Sunday, November 5, will be the first weigh in. Winners will be named after the final weigh-in on December 10. Winners will get prize packages from Ikea and citywide bragging rights.

Wish me luck.

I’ll be posting about my experience on Twitter. You can follow me @704Michaela. Also, be sure to follow City of Charlotte Solid Waste Services (@CLTSWS) and @Qcitymetro for more tips.

There’s still time to enter. Sign up at tgw.charlottenc.gov and stop by Solid Waste Services, 1105 Otts Street, before Nov. 5 to pick up your bin and scale.

Even if you don’t accept the F2G2W Challenge, you can still take steps to reduce food waste. Here are some tips from the Food: Too Good To Waste Community Challenge Resource Guide:

• Create weekly meal plans. Consider the number of meals you plan to eat at home and how frequently you plan to visit the grocery store.
• Use your meal plan to create a shopping list. Be sure to note the quantity needed of each item based on the meals you’re preparing.
• Shop your kitchen first and note items you already have.
• Prepare or consume perishable foods soon after shopping. It will be easier to whip up meals later in the week, saving time, effort and money.
• When you get home from the store, take time to wash, dry, chop, dice, slice and place your fresh food items in clear storage containers for snacks and easy cooking.
• Befriend your freezer, and visit it often.
• Cut your time in the kitchen by preparing and freezing meals ahead of time.
• Prepare and cook perishable items, then freeze them for use throughout the month. For example, bake and freeze chicken breasts or fry and freeze taco meat.

For more tips on preparing and storing food, visit www.healthcommunitiesclt.com and check out the video below:

YouTube video

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