Get to work on reducing food waste
Information and intentional steps to reduce the amount of food wasted where you work.
Whether team members at your company work in a shared office, from coworking spaces, or at their kitchen tables, food waste happens “at work.”
Americans waste about a pound of food each day, and, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, food is the largest single category of waste in our landfills, where it produces methane gas as it decays and contributes to global warming.
Here’s a quick-start guide to wasting less food wherever work happens for you and your team.
Educating your team is the first step to reducing food waste. Give your team information about the issue and how they can make an impact — then walk the walk by planning and supporting waste reduction efforts. This downloadable food waste toolkit, created by the Rockefeller Foundation, is a great place to start.
If your team works from home, you can share info about how they’re in an ideal position to waste less and make smart choices like finishing off leftovers, buying just enough food rather than buying in bulk, composting at home to keep organic waste from landfills, and learning what those “use by” and “sell by” dates really mean to avoid throwing out food before it’s actually spoiled.
If you’re interested in supporting remote employees’ efforts on the homefront, consider offering a benefit like a composting stipend to cover the cost of organics hauling if their local waste management company doesn’t provide the service.
As an employer, if you send food or beverage items to team members, do so intentionally with the employee’s preferences and allergies in mind to avoid those well-intentioned edible gifts being wasted.
In the office
Ah, the office fridge. The scene of so many sad (maybe terrifying) neglected food items — and sometimes a hotbed of controversy. Let’s change that. As a first step, ask team members to label food containers with their name and the date, and create a rotating schedule to clear it out weekly and send food home to be consumed before the weekend.
Consider setting up an office composting plan. There are plenty of how-to guides available, and if your local waste management service doesn’t offer compost pick up, compost pick-up services will gather your food waste and deliver it to local community gardens for recycling.
At company events
The Green Business Bureau notes that an intentional approach to reducing food waste at company events starts from the early stages of planning. Tracking food preferences, portion sizes, and personal dietary needs of teams and guests across events allows for efficient planning and reduces waste. Maintain a waste log to track food waste from each event and use that information to keep quantity aligned with consumption in the future.
Whether ordering a weekly team lunch from a local restaurant or planning a larger-scale, catered event, select a vendor that is conscious of waste by asking a few simple questions about how they calculate portion size and their approach to food waste. Try to avoid offering a buffet, which tends to lead to more waste.
Finally, if possible, make plans to redistribute leftovers through a waste management provider like Goodr, which will pick up and deliver leftover food to nonprofit organizations in your community.