We Hate to Waste logo
Sign up for our Newsletter ‐ it's Free!

7 Tips to Fight Food Waste in NYC

City Harvest Truck being loaded for Food Donation

Charities like City Harvest distributes still edible food from restaurants, stores and other commercial establishment to feed the hungry. (Image: NY Life)

NYC wasted almost 600,000 tons of food scraps(1) in 2013(1).  That’s over 23 times the weight of the Statue of Liberty and the pedestal it sits on! We can all save a lot of money — not to mention the planet — if we put in a little effort to change the way we think about food. Here are 7 tips to get started:

Woman doing the 'sniff test'

Trust your nose. A quick ‘sniff test’ is a better barometer for freshness than confusing labels. (Image: Huffington Post)

1. Avoid impulse purchases. Don’t buy any food that you don’t have plans to eat right away.

2. Heading out of town? Clean out the fridge. Moving? Let Move for Hunger donate your non-perishables to the needy.

3.  Ordered too much at dinner? Ask for a doggie bag — and don’t forget to take the bread home, too! Better yet, bring your own zipper bag or collapsible rigid container.  Make it easy for guests at weddings and other events to bring home leftovers. Or donate them to City Harvest and other food rescue groups. (Donate flowers to Repeat Roses.)

4. Use the ‘sniff test‘ to determine whether food is fit to eat — not ‘sell by’, ‘use by’ and ‘best before’ labels (#Confusing).  Store food properly. Download these A – Z

Redefining reduce and reuse for a trash-free NYC If Trash Could Talk poetry book

Jacquelyn Ottman’s book, If Trash Could Talk, inspires a new consumption culture in NYC.

Food Storage Tips. Get More Details at We Hate To Waste.

5. Makeover the leftovers into new tasty meals with some of our favorite recipes.

6. Eat everything — including broccoli spears and carrot tops. Inspo from We Hate to Waste.

7. Pool leftovers with neighbors and friends — and create a new social occasion. Watch this inspiring BBC video.

Click here for 60 FREE resources for getting to zero waste in NYC

Click here for 60 FREE resources for getting to zero waste in NYC

(1) This statistic is calculated from the figures provided in this DSNY document.

Posting Guidelines – This and other stories published on WeHateToWaste.com are intended to prompt positive conversations about practical solutions for preventing waste. Opinions expressed are solely those of the contributors, and WeHateToWaste implies no endorsement of the products or organizations mentioned.

About the Author
Jacquie Ottman is an advocate for zero waste. She is the founder and editor of WeHateToWaste.com She is currently writing a book about Leftovers as a solution to food waste. Read more about Jacquie HERE, and check out her other posts.
  1. Angela Y.W. Chau Reply

    What an interesting and practical post, Jacquie! And I’m proud to cross out some of the 7 suggestions as I have already been practicing them without realizing they contribute to fighting food waste! (like sniff test and encouraging makeover the leftovers) Gonna set the rest of them as my goals from now on!

  2. Saiba Sharmeen Reply

    Loved reading the 7 simple tips to cut down food waste, which shows that it is not at all difficult to start thinking about reducing our personal waste. It is a matter of changing small things from our lifestyles and at the same time helping in the waste reduction of our cities. I loved the idea to avoid impulse purchases and although, I am careful not to waste food at home, when it comes to eating out at restaurants, I personally make some impulsive purchases which I regret later. This can be because of the fact that I am not directly throwing the food away in bins at restaurants while I know how much food waste I am throwing away at home. I will definitely be careful about this the next time I eat out at a restaurant.

  3. Amanda Estus Reply

    These tips are so helpful to share with anyone who is looking to cut down on food waste. My favorite tip is the leftover pool especially after big holidays. Even in an ordinary week, if I have something that needs to be used quickly, I love to do a quick Pinterest or Google search for the ingredient and make something new- bonus points if it can be shared with friends for an impromptu get together or a sweet treat to bring to work!

  4. Rebecca Hance Reply

    An easily digestible list of tips like this one can have such an impact on daily food habits. Although I already do some of these practices, like the sniff test and cleaning out the fridge before trips, there is always room for improvement. For me, I could definitely do better with impulsive purchasing. I think an additional tip that would fall under impulsive purchases would be “don’t go to the supermarket hungry”! I’ve learned this the hard way, when I end up buying anything that looks good to eat in that moment. Can’t wait to implement more of these tips into my consumption habits!

Leave a Reply