Great work making it to day 3! If you’ve made it this far, the rest of this challenge is going to be a piece of cake. We’ve set a solid foundation with an organized kitchen and a well-thought-out shopping trip. 

Now it’s time to take a look into the trash and measure how much food we’re really throwing away. 

The point of today is not to feel guilty about how much you’re throwing away. The point is to get a better perspective on what you’re throwing away and why so we can brainstorm changes. 

As one of our favorite zero-waste advocates—Anne-Marie Bonneau—says, 

“We don’t need a handful of people doing zero waste perfectly. We need millions of people doing it imperfectly.” 

If you’re already composting all your food scraps, sorry but you don’t get a free pass today! Keep track of everything you’re composting and look for ways to reduce waste there. After all, preventing waste in the first place is our ultimate goal, according to the EPA’s hierarchy of the best ways to manage food waste.  

How to measure your food waste

Put a piece of paper and pen next to your trash can or compost bucket, and every time you toss some food, write down what it was and how much. 

For example, 2 pieces of bread, 1 handful of spinach, 1 filter of coffee grounds. 

Don’t worry about getting super precise with your measurements. The point is to get eyes on the problem more than to get an accurate number. 

Brainstorm new habits

At the end of the day, look at your list and make notes about what you could have done differently and why things got chucked. 

Was it spoiled and completely unsalvageable? Or was it something that was still good to eat and could have been added to a new dish, frozen for later, or offered up to a neighbor? 

Could you have turned those stale pieces of bread into croutons or bread crumbs? Maybe that wilted spinach could have gone into a cooked dish? Even coffee grounds can get another life as a body scrub or odor neutralizer for your fridge

Pick a few recipes and ideas you’ll actually use. Again, it’s not about being perfect, but about incorporating a few new habits into your routine. It’s perfectly okay to toss coffee grounds into the compost if you have no use for a homemade body scrub. 

Here are a few more ideas for using up foods you might be throwing away: 

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