In 2018, the City of Toronto released the Long Term Waste Management Strategy.
This plan was conceived after studies from the city showed that Torontonians waste around 900,000 tonnes a year of edible food. The study found that this is not sustainable and began to implement strategies. To lower these numbers. This is especially pertinent during COVID-19 when people are eating at home more than ever.
Among the city's new initiatives is the Urban Harvest program. The program collects any surplus fruits and vegetables from community gardens around the city and gives them to food banks to ensure the fruits and vegetables get eaten.
The important question for Torontonians is, how can we prevent food waste? What are the tools we have to make sure we are not wasting food and money? The city of Toronto compiled a list of valuable tools to reduce your own food waste output.
- SHOPPING HABITS - We've all been there before. You head to the grocery store at the beginning of the week. You decide you don't need a list. You're going to buy whatever your heart desires. Cut to the end of the week, and you've got a giant bunch of asparagus rotting in your vegetable drawer, and your optimistic buying patterns have failed you once again. The trick to shopping smart is to have a plan, make a list and meal plan. This is the biggest way you can reduce your food waste.
- KEEP YOUR FOOD FRESH - Make sure your fridge is set to the right temperature (4°C or lower) and that you have designated areas to store each of your different food items. Also, freezing your food can help lengthen its life span.
- FIND CREATIVE WAYS TO USE EXPIRED FOODS - You can soak wilted foods like lettuce, broccoli and carrots in ice water to rejuvenate the food. You can use fruits and veggies that are expired in smoothies. Are your bananas overdue? This is a great opportunity to bake some banana bread, which will be a hit throughout your house.
If you are in a position where you don't feel quite ready to leap to count every piece of food you're using and to never see an onion in a garbage can again, there are other initiatives you can support throughout the country, including Second Harvest. According to their 2020 Impact Report, Second Harvest provides 62,000 meals a day to Canadians in need. They rescued 64 million dollars of food last year, and they increased from 1,201 to 2,555 food donors in the past year. Donating to organizations like Second Harvest is a way to ensure less food is being wasted each year.
Lastly, the easiest way to help with food waste is to use your green bin. Green bins are provided by the city and are used for composting purposes. It prevents food waste from going into landfills. It allows your food to be repurposed into materials to help the environment and can lower your waste output significantly. Green bins can be filled with all food waste including eggshells, expired veggies and meat (including bones) and can even include items like diapers and coffee grounds.
For more information on how to use green bins, you can visit the City of Toronto's website