Guest editorial: Reduce your food waste and help save the planet |

Guest editorial: Reduce your food waste and help save the planet

Katya Pushka and Jackson Crowley
Park City High School

As Park City High School energy ambassadors, we’ve been empowering our peers to reduce their environmental impact by using the Summit Community Power Works (SCPW) Challenge. The Energy Ambassador internship — created with support from Vail Resorts’ EpicPromise — allowed SCPW to provide us with opportunities to develop leadership skills and learn more about climate change. Unfortunately, schools were closed shortly after our internship began. When we were stuck inside, we found ways to reduce our carbon footprints from home and encourage our peers to do so as well. One thing we can all do in our homes is address food waste.

While some things are opening up, leaving home for unnecessary trips is still a risk. Just a trip to the grocery store can feel intimidating, so we’ve put together some tips on maximizing the food you have at home to reduce your food waste. Reducing your waste helps you avoid the store and also has a significant impact on your carbon footprint. According to Project Drawdown, food waste is one of the highest contributors to carbon emissions. Food waste harms the environment and needs to be reduced to control climate change.

The pandemic shed a light on the importance of using what we already have. Now is the perfect time to discover new recipes using your current food supply. According to the New York Post, “Americans throw away 103 pounds of spoiled food from their fridge every single year.” Take inventory of what’s in your pantry. Once you know what you have, find creative recipes to use what’s on hand. You can even plan out your meals for the week before you go grocery shopping, so you only buy the food you need. Strategic meal planning can help you avoid spending $1,500 a year on uneaten groceries.

Some may think that stocking up on food is the best way to go, but this creates more food waste. Perishable items including fruits, vegetables, dairy and meat go to waste when you buy too much. Not only is the food wasted, but the energy and water for growing, transporting and packaging are wasted as well. Most people don’t realize that when food is piled up in landfills, it produces a greenhouse gas called methane. Methane is extremely harmful to the environment. According to the World Wildlife Fund, about 11% of agricultural emissions could be reduced if we stop wasting food. Even if you’ve been careful about planning your meals, things happen, and you may end up with a little food waste. In that case, compost your extra food to avoid sending your waste to the landfill.

While social distancing continues, we will be cooking, experimenting and eating at home. It’s important to minimize the food waste we produce. There are many easy ways to conquer this challenge. Cook with the food you already have before you buy groceries, plan meals to avoid over-buying and compost extras. Reducing how much food goes to waste will create a cleaner, safer future. Learn more about living sustainably by using heading to to calculate your carbon footprint and create your home energy plan! So far this year, we’ve had more than 150 Park City High School students join the challenge, and we can’t wait to see the kind of impact we’ll have if the whole community gets on board.

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