It’s that time of year again. Time to do a self-assessment and see where you can make improvements. Research shows resolutions are not generally very successful. Instead it makes sense to make life corrections and modifications on a more regular basis when something is going off track. This is good advice for businesses as well.
One area that I find myself needing to address, is food waste. I’m not alone. The average American wastes over one pound of food a day. But consumers aren’t solely responsible. Approximately 20 billion pounds of produce are wasted yearly because it doesn’t meet cosmetic standards. This is where marketing can help.
In an effort to change the way people look at food, The Ugly Fruit and Veg Campaign is on a mission to reduce waste through education and a social media campaign – encouraging the posting of “uglies” and starting a conversation to increase awareness of the problem. They’re also working with national grocery stores and local farmers’ markets to try to turn the tide.
There are other areas for improvement on the retail front. For instance, many people are confused by “best by” and “use by” dates. The FDA and USDA have made recommendations on how to standardize labeling, but they are not a regulatory requirement. Compliance and clarity, however, would make waste conscious consumers and businesses big fans. Here’s a good terminology tutorial from WebMD.
Cost is also a huge factor. Buying in bulk is often cheaper than getting the two potatoes you need for dinner. You ultimately spend less per piece/pound, but may end up throwing that savings in the garbage on next week’s trash day.
Here are some small changes that can help in the battle against food waste:
- Shop smaller: Instead of buying two weeks’ worth of groceries, try shopping more frequently for smaller amounts.
- Be creative: What can you do with the avocado, stale bread and last scoop of ice cream? Make an avocado bread pudding, of course. Kidding. Just kidding. But start thinking outside the box.
- Proper storage: From personal experience, I know that strawberries start to spoil as soon as you put them in your cart. Here are some tips on how to select, clean and store produce to help decrease waste.
- For businesses that provide snacks for their employees, make sure the snacks will stay fresh until they’re gone – choose nuts or other foods with longevity.
- Buying lunch? Let the employees choose their lunch preferences and don’t over order. Have containers on hand to keep any leftovers fresh.
Education and understanding is a key to solving this waste and small changes add up. As brands and marketers, we all have ways to encourage the people around us to be aware of food and other waste and we can all be creative in ways to control it. Plus, maybe having less food around will help with some of your other New Year’s resolutions!
Happy New Year and good luck making all of your goals for 2019.