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Zero Food Waste Challenge at Home

Zero Food Waste Challenge At Home

What is the Zero Food Waste Challenge?

The Challenge is a town-wide effort to decrease residential food waste by at least 25%. Why? Because close to 1 out of 4 bags of groceries end up being thrown away, and food waste is one of the heaviest (and wettest) and therefore most expensive, types of trash for the town to incinerate.  If food waste were a country, it would be the third largest emitter of greenhouse gases, behind China and the US!

Reducing Food Waste Saves Money, Allows Those Less Fortunate to Eat Better & Conserves Resources

FOOD  FACTS: About 94 percent of the food we throw away ends up in landfills or combustion facilities.  38.1 million tons of food waste (2017)

BENEFIT: By managing food sustainably and reducing waste, we can save money, provide a bridge in our communities for those who do not have enough to eat, and conserve resources for future generations.

Most people don’t realize how much food they throw away every day — from uneaten leftovers to spoiled produce.

Below you’ll find:

I) Benefits of Reducing Wasted Food

II) Ways to Reduce Wasted Food

        • Plan Meals
        • Prep Tips
        • Storage Tips
        • Thriftiness Tips

III) How to measure your wasted food

IV) If you Can’t Reduce Wasted Food, Divert It From Incinerators  and Landfills by Composting

V) Food Rescue opportunities

Benefits of Reducing Wasted Food

  • Saves money from buying less food.
  • Reduces methane emissions from landfills and lowers toxic emissions from incinerator.
  • Conserves energy and resources, preventing pollution involved in the growing, manufacturing, transporting, and selling food (not to mention hauling the food waste and then burning it or landfilling it).
  • Supports your community by providing donated untouched food that would have otherwise gone to waste to those who do not have a steady food supply.

Ways to Reduce Wasted Food:

Go to and for helpful hints.

Planning, prepping, and storing food can help your household waste less food. Below are some tips to help you do just that:

Planning Tips

Sustainable Westport recognizes that these are extraordinary times, as we manage the Covid 19 crisis, and that some of these tips may not be relevant at this time. We look forward to the day when daily activities include congregating and shopping at will, and when these tips are most helpful. 

By simply making a list with weekly meals in mind, you can save money and time and eat healthier food. If you buy no more than what you expect to use, you will be more likely to keep it fresh and use it all.

  • Keep a running list of meals and their ingredients that your household already enjoys. That way, you can easily choose, shop for and prepare meals.
  • Make your shopping list based on how many meals you’ll eat at home. Will you eat out this week? How often?
  • Plan your meals for the week before you go shopping and buy only the things needed for those meals.
  • Include quantities on your shopping list noting how many meals you’ll make with each item to avoid overbuying. For example: salad greens – enough for two lunches.
  • Look in your refrigerator and cupboards first to avoid buying food you already have, make a list each week of what needs to be used up and plan upcoming meals around it.
  • Buy only what you need and will use. Buying in bulk only saves money if you are able to use the food before it spoils.

Storage Tips

It’s easy to overbuy or forget about food and beverages you already have. Store for maximum freshness and quality. Use the FoodKeeper App to identify proper storage.

  • Find out how to store fruits and vegetables so they stay fresh longer inside or outside your refrigerator.
  • Freeze, preserve, or can surplus fruits and vegetables – especially abundant seasonal produce.
  • Many fruits give off natural gases as they ripen, making other nearby produce spoil faster. Store bananas, apples, and tomatoes by themselves, and store fruits and vegetables in different bins.
  • Wait to wash berries until you want to eat them to prevent mold.
  • If you like to eat fruit at room temperature, but it should be stored in the refrigerator for maximum freshness, take what you’ll eat for the day out of the refrigerator in the morning.

Prep Tips

Prepare perishable foods soon after shopping. It will be easier to whip up meals or snacks later in the week, saving time, effort, and money.

  • When you get home from the store, take the 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. For example,
    • Freeze food such as bread, sliced fruit, or meat that you know you won’t be able to eat in time.
    • 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.

Thriftiness Tips

Be mindful of old ingredients and leftovers you need to use up. You’ll waste less and may even find a new favorite dish.

  • Shop in your refrigerator first! Cook or eat what you already have at home before buying more.
  • Have produce that’s past its prime? It may still be fine for cooking. Think soups, casseroles, stir fries, sauces, baked goods, pancakes or smoothies.
  • If safe and healthy, use the edible parts of food that you normally do not eat. For example, stale bread can be used to make croutons, beet tops can be sautéed for a delicious side dish, and vegetable scraps can be made into stock.
  • Learn the difference between “sell-by,” “use-by,” “best-by,” and expiration dates.
  • Are you likely to have leftovers from any of your meals? Plan an “eat the leftovers” night each week.
  • Casseroles, stir-fries, frittatas, soups, and smoothies are great ways to use leftovers too. Search for websites that provide suggestions for using leftover ingredients.
  • At restaurants, order only what you can finish by asking about portion sizes and be aware of side dishes included with entrees. Take home the leftovers and eat them for your next meal.
  • At all-you-can-eat buffets, take only what you can eat.
  • Reserve a section of your refrigerator for food that needs to be eaten soon. Put an “Eat Me First” sign in your fridge.

Sell-by, Use-by, Best-by dates

Confusion over date labeling leads to billions of pounds of food waste every year. To learn more about food labeling read this New York Times article (, or go to the FDA website ( 

Get to Know Your Wasted Food: 

Figure out how much food is really going to waste in your home and what you can do to waste less. By making small shifts in how you shop for, prepare, and store food, you can save time and money, and keep the valuable resources used to produce and distribute food from going to waste!

Take the quiz to learn how much food you waste:

Identify Your Wasted Food:

Compost Inedible Food: Divert It From Landfills and Incinerators


  • Compost food scraps rather than throw them away. Options include:
    • Home compost;
    • Pick-up service for about $30/month
    • (FREE Food Scraps Recycling at Westport’s Transfer Station: COMING JULY 6th, 2020)

For more information about composting: Composting Resources

  • Nutritious, safe, and untouched food can be donated to food banks to help those in need.
    • Use the Food Rescue US app to identify establishments with surplus food and food distribution centers that could use the surplus food
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