Food Waste: Save Money, Save Natural Resources

by Tom Galante, Commissioner City of St. Charles Natural Resources Commission

How would you like to pat yourself on the back for helping the environment, feeding the hungry, and reducing greenhouse gases,  all while using your other hand to pocket the money you’re saving? Does that sound good? Read on!

Food waste, if it were a country of its own, would be the 3rd largest emitter of greenhouse gases, 3.3 gigatons per year! Besides emitting methane from landfills, food waste squanders the water, land, labor, and energy resources used to grow, process, and distribute food.

Pre-inflation estimates were that food waste resulted in a loss of $240 billion per year in the United States alone. That total comes from the consumer (us!) and retail sectors, equaling $1866 per household per year. I’m sure we can all come up with better uses for $1866 than throwing it away… and that number has likely risen with inflation.

Another pre-inflation figure: 10.2% of American households experience food insecurity at some point during a given year. With almost a third of all food purchased being wasted, no households should be going hungry.

What steps can we take to cut greenhouse gases, feed our communities, and SAVE MONEY?

  1. Plan your food purchases. Figure out what you already have, plan meals, make a shopping list, don’t shop on an empty stomach, and keep track of what goes to waste.
  2. Store your food purchases properly, so they’re ready for your consumption. Find out the differences between expiration dates, sell-by dates, best-if-used-by dates, use-or-freeze-by dates, etc. Many of these are mere unregulated suggestions. Don’t worry, the links at the end of this article are there to help you.
  3. Compost your food waste. Curbside composting is included in the City of St. Charles waste collection contract! Details can be found on the City website at
  4. Healthy, unexpired food items can be donated. Help those in need in your community! Donations and composting keep food waste out of landfills, reducing greenhouse gases.

Use the links below for more information and to help the environment, our community, and your wallet!

Learn more: