Don’t let it go

My husband and I are hardly ever home. Between work obligations, visiting family, church volunteering and kids activities, we are just never home. In fact, we just threw away chicken and pork chops that expired because we didn’t have a chance to eat it. It kills me to waste food and it kills me even more that I didn’t take the time to freeze it. Our life is just too busy to be home and that is something we need to try to change. I’ve made the crockpot dinners and the quick fix dinners, but we still end up throwing away food. In 2004, a University of Arizona study indicates that forty to fifty percent of all edible food never gets eaten. Every year $43 billion worth of edible food is estimated to be thrown away. We just let it go away too easily.

How many times have you heard that we live in a disposable society? I am guessing, probably one too many. The average person throws away about 4 pounds of trash per day. And guess what? We are not just consumers, but over consumers. There is easily an overproduction of short-lived products. Products that are meant to be one-time use, everything from bottled water and razors to cameras and diapers, are too easily tossed away without much regard. Containers and packaging represent 32 percent of all municipal solid waste. Then we also overbuy at the stores.

So how did we allow this to happen, especially if we are aware of our own actions?

A lot of our throw away habits has to do with time and money, the root of our daily life. We allow other things to get in the way of our conscious choices. We have common barriers in our lives that intercept our daily choices.

As a working mom of two small children, I find myself spending the least amount of time in a store just to save some time, some money and some sanity. Unfortunately, the choices I make on food and other necessities are not always the most sustainable. I’m sorry but sometimes it seems we have to concede our ways in order to survive parenthood.

Despite my unsustainable shopping habits, I have found a few winning ways that I can continue without it being a burden on my budget. 

1) Shop at the Farmer’s Market – get fresh fruit and veggies, they may even have local honey and local meats too. Farmer’s Markets have evolved too, so its more than just apples and carrots on the produce stands. Bring your kids! Just make sure you have plans for this food, because it needs to be consumed shortly after purchase.

2) Buy in Bulk – let things last as long as possible, such as soaps and shampoos. Bulk shopping as helps save multiple trips to the store for the same few things that you use the most. Split the bulk with a friend and save even more time and money.

3) Clean Simpler and Cheaper – forget those flashy cleaners that sparkle and twinkle. Go for the originals such as vinegar, baking soda, peroxide and you will find recipes online that your wallet will thank you for later. Check Pinterest.

4) Be Strong and Say No – all the temptations are on the checkout lanes – candy, single-serve sodas, little crummy toys – and your kids will ask and ask and ask. Just say NO!

5) Know Your Schedule – my worst habit is overbuying food and not having enough time to cook it or eat it. We think we’re going to be home, then something comes up or plans change. This is the part where I need to utilize our freezer more often.

the author

Originally from Virginia, Jennifer C. Sellers is passionate about sustainability and conservation in South Carolina and throughout the world. She earned her BA in English from Coastal Carolina University and her MAS in Environmental Policy and Management from the University of Denver. She is a university sustainability coordinator that implements programs and teaches people about going green and being sustainable. Follow her on Twitter @MyGreenGlasses

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