Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Food Waste: From Table to Trash by Laura H.

I recently watched a movie as part of the Edmonton International Film Festival “Just Eat It”. The film was all about food waste and it’s reinvigorated my passion on the topic. What I took from the film was that individual actions in your home can make a big difference in the amount of food we throw out.  

A study released by Value Chain Management Centre in 2010 confirms that our actions at home count. It found that 51% of the food wasted in Canada comes from our homes. That is more than food wasted in restaurants, processing facilities and grocery stores combined.

I believe if we make a conscious effort to cut back on how many fruits, vegetables and other leftovers we let rot in our kitchen we can reduce our household garbage by up to 20%. That’s about the same amount that is diverted from the landfill by household recycling!

In the past year I’ve been making a real effort to cut back on food I buy and throw out. I’d like to share three things I’ve found actually work to reduce my wasted food (and money).

I’m proud that 90 per cent of households in Edmonton are recycling. That means that for many
residents, it’s time to go beyond recycling and using Eco Stations to reduce our waste.

We can all reach our goal of 90% waste from landfill and I believe reducing food waste in our homes will help us get there! 

October 20 to 26 is Waste Reduction Week in Canada. To celebrate, The City of Edmonton is collecting stories of how individuals, businesses, and community member reduce waste in Edmonton. Have a story to share? Email laura.henderson@edmonton.ca.

Laura H. is not only an employee at the City of Edmonton Waste Management Services, but she also graduated from the MCR program in 2011. Laura is full of energy and makes a huge impact in her community.


  1. Good point Laura. I will check out this film. Suzy and I did a one year project last year on how much garbage we throw out. We weighed our garbage every morning on garbage pick up day. The exact numbers evade me right now but turns out we only disposed of about 150lbs in a year compared to the average of about 1000lbs or more. A huge part of this number was that we were conscious of what we were buying as you mentioned. Look before you buy another. A large part of general garbage is also how it is packaged. Buy fresh...less packaging...healthier eating...less waste.
    Time to go make more soup with my vegetables.

    1. Thanks Kevin! Did you and Suzy categorize the different types of waste when you weighed it or was it just an overall weight number? You should write a little piece for this post about your experience! Or have you already?


  2. Hello Laura,

    What does food waste include? I do not eat bones. Are they included? The very young poultry bones, fish bones and exoskeletons can be composted.but not the red meat bones. I do put all bones into the compost (I do not recommend this unless you have a large active compost.) so that only bone is left not the cartilage. I have cut down on my meat consumption over the years.

    Most of the pork and duck fat goes into pie crust. I still have some waste fat.

    Did you look at the composting workshop blog? I eat my pumpkins. They are quite nutritious. The skins go into the compost.


  3. You're right Diana - there are lots of kinds of food waste! I split food waste into 3 categories.

    Wasted Food
    I consider wasted food to be food that could have been eaten that was thrown out instead. Things that were purchased and left to go bad or expire like rotten fruits and veggies or leftovers that are left to spoil.

    Household Compostables
    Items like peels and rinds that people don't regularly eat also make up a large portion of garbage that I consider households compostable. These can be kept out of your garbage by setting up a backyard composter or worm bin.

    Finally, items like bones and fats which we don't encourage people to compost at home unless they are very skilled composters like yourself. This stuff just goes in the garbage and can only be reduced by changing your diet to eat less meat - like you did.

    I'll have a look at the composting workshop blog right away. Thanks again! - Laura

  4. First of all Laura, I genuinely need to appreciate your effort on making people aware on this particular issue. While going through your blog, I notice that three steps to reduce food waste. I certainly agree with the first one, avoid purchasing excess food materials. But, I’m not clear on the second one. Then, you mentioned about recycling and of course it is playing a crucial role in waste management. Anyhow, I enjoyed reading your blog. Thanks!

    1. Hi Carl,

      Thank you so much for your comment.

      My second example, "take a few minutes to store food properly after you grocery shop" is all about putting food in places that it won't be forgotten and do any prep you need to that will extend shelf life. For example, when I buy celery if I don't chop it up and put it in water right away then I find it wilts before I can bite into the first stalk. Another example is if I put yogurt in the back of the fridge I may not notice it before it's long expired.

      There are many ways that we can reduce our food waste so I just gave a few examples that work for me. If you have other ideas I would love to hear them so feel free to share!


      Resources for Food Waste Tips

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