7 Day Food Waste Reduction Challenge

Mission Statement: The INFEWS-ER Food Waste Cohort’s mission is to increase the awareness of consumer food waste nationally and collectively challenge each other to save money, save resources, and save the planet through a social media campaign: 7 Day Food Waste Reduction Challenge! #CancelFoodWaste


The Problem with Food Waste

Can you imagine if every time you came home from the grocery store, you immediately threw out every third bag of your groceries without opening them? Well, that is what is happening every day in America on a national scale, where 40% of food is wasted (NRDC, 2017). Not only is this a huge waste of money, but it also wastes the water, energy, soil, fertilizer, transportation and countless other factors that go into growing the food. Most of this wasted food ends up in landfills, where it emits greenhouse gases that cause climate change and air pollution (EPA.gov, n.d.). At the same time, nearly 12% of American households are food-insecure, and reducing food waste could help improve food availability. Join our campaign to learn more about the “Wicked Problem” of food waste, and take action to reduce your “foodprint”!



We launch our challenge on Monday, April 12, 2021! Follow along on Facebook, Instagram and TikTok.


Day 1: Food Waste Audit

An estimated 133 billion pounds of food goes to waste annually in the United States; this translates to about $161 billon in economic losses each year. Most of this food waste occurs at the retail and consumer levels. In fact, it was estimated that an average US household loses between $800-$900 annually to wasted food. Not only are we wasting money, but it is also ethically concerning given that more than 10 million children in America are food insecure. Unfortunately, many of us do not know this because food is trashed in bits and we never paid attention to it. In this week of the food waste challenge, let us challenge each other to pay attention to our food waste in one week and reevaluate how we can reduce and prevent food waste in the future.

Day 2: Learn the Truth about Expiration Dates

Expiration date label confusion accounts for about 20% of edible consumer food waste, resulting in wasted food, wasted money, and wasted resources. Food date labels are not federally regulated, but instead are largely determined at the discretion of food manufacturers. This challenge breaks down the differences between the various types of food date labels to help make informed decisions on food quality versus food safety at the store and in your kitchen.

Day 3: Shop your Kitchen, Make a Grocery List

Did you know that over half of all food waste in the U.S. takes place in the home? Planning your grocery list ahead of time is an essential step in preventing food waste. As you write your list, think ahead to the meals you are preparing this week and check your fridge to see what you already have. Stick to your list while you are shopping to save money, eat healthier, and save time in the grocery store as well as prevent excess food from piling up!

Day 4: Tips for Food Preparation and Storage

It is easy to cause food waste when we overbuy or forget about fresh fruits and vegetables in the fridge. By preparing perishable foods soon after shopping and storing fruits and vegetables properly, we can reduce food waste and save money. Follow along in this challenge to learn tips for food preparation and storage!

Day 5: Zero Waste Recipes

This challenge involves using parts of produce we would normally throw away. Food waste releases methane as it decomposes in landfills, a greenhouse gas that is twenty-eight times as powerful as carbon dioxide. By reusing food we would normally throw away, we are saving money by creating more meals for ourselves and helping to protect the planet by reducing food waste. Check out our Resource Hub for all the recipes we posted during the week, and more!

Day 6: Make New Meals with Leftovers 

The Natural Resources Defense Council estimates that at least 40% of the food processed and transported in the U.S is never eaten. Simultaneously, about 50 million people in the United States face food insecurity. This challenge offers a potential solution by giving a second chance to the food left on the plate. Alternative uses will have positive environmental, economic, and social impacts, and to reduce the one-third of food that is lost or wasted.

Day 7: Repurpose Wasted Food & Scraps

Wasted food is the single largest component taking up space inside U.S. landfills (EPA, 2018). However, there are many ways we can repurpose our food scraps–from creating DIY skincare from overripe produce and coffee grounds to making household cleaners from citrus peels! Check out our Resource Hub for a list of ways we can repurpose our wasted food.


Want more information on food waste? Check out our Resource Hub, where we have assembled resources pertaining to the problem of food waste and the solutions we presented in each of the daily challenges.