Can changing your eating and food planning habits really reduce food waste?
Dufferin Waste says the answer is yes.
Last year, the municipality partnered with Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health in a campaign to show members of the community how much of an impact it could have.
The Plan to Save Reduce Waste Food campaign was an eight-week educational challenge, which sought to help participants learn about food waste habits, saving money, and eating healthier.
“Planning ahead is the first step to avoiding food waste,” said Scott Burns, director of public works and county engineer for the County of Dufferin. “If households buy only what they need through meal planning and creating a shopping list, they will use up most of their groceries for a week.”
On Nov. 2, Dufferin Waste announced the Plan to Save Reduce Food Waste is returning for 2020, albeit in a different format. The decision to execute it again followed the success of last year’s program, which saw 95 participants sign up and the distribution of over 90 Plan to Save kits.
“Many residents also engaged with our communications materials,” added Burns. “Participants loved our Plan to Save kit, which provided them with resources that helped understand how to plan and save in the long run.”
This year’s program provides access to a number of the same resources that were available in the kit in 2019 through an online portal. Along with a produce storage guide, they can also access a refrigerator infographic to help understand how to better preserve groceries.
“Part of it is learning how to preserve what isn’t used to make it last longer, so it can be used during the following week,” explained Burns. “This will save households a lot of money, and encourage them to eat all those nutritious foods instead of throwing them away in the green bin.”
The majority of foods thrown away are healthy ones such as fruits and vegetables, often because they’re not stored correctly or used quickly enough. This leads into another facet of the program, which is a focus on meal planning and shopping according to those plans.
Plan to Save Reduce Waste is designed to be relevant to everyone, especially those who have an active role in grocery shopping and cooking in their household.
Recognizing different lifestyles can impact the way you eat, plan and shop, several different profiles are included in the campaign to help participants find the best one for themselves.
“Recognizing the various types of households allowed us to offer education to help them start thinking about their own food waste habits and provide the resources to help them,” said Burns. “Every household is different and they each have their own barriers to reducing food waste.”
Some of the profiles available include ‘The Frantic Family’, ‘Busy Professional’, ‘Empty Nester’, and ‘Foodie’.
The average household is said to waste about $1,500 per year, equal to around $125 a month.
“It’s most common in households, where we see about 63 per cent of edible food going to waste,” said Burns. “With our Plan to Save resources, residents will benefit by building skills that will help them meal plan, buy only what they need, and preserve what they buy.”
He noted that while some people may find they are able to change their habits and reduce food waste quite quickly, it will take time for most people to adjust.
With proper education, Dufferin Waste and the County of Dufferin hope they will be able to see the impact of the program through local waste collection.
“We are taking note of the changes we are seeing in waste audits and the green bin tonnages,” Burns said. “(We) expect to see a noticeable change as more of the community becomes aware of their food habits and commit to building skills that will help them take action and reduce food waste.”
For more information visit dufferincounty.ca/foodwaste or follow the campaign on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter.
Tabitha Wells/Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Orangeville Banner