Maybe you’re inspired by the idea that a low-waste lifestyle could help you eat healthier, but you feel totally overwhelmed when you think about how to actually make it happen. I don’t blame you! When I first learned about zero-waste principles, I was overwhelmed, too.

But I made a commitment to protect the environment, my health, and my family’s health, so I turned that overwhelmed feeling into action. I started small, changing one habit at a time. As a dietitian, it’s no surprise that I began with an overhaul of my kitchen and food shopping habits.

Because we eat multiple times a day, tweaking food habits has a major impact. And by reducing waste in the kitchen, we tackle two issues: food waste and packaging waste.

Why Worry About Kitchen Waste?

As of 2017, food is the largest component of what Americans send to landfills, with households and restaurants being the biggest contributors. Worldwide, we waste about one third of the food produced for human consumption. Besides wasting the food, this wastes energy, land, water, and other valuable resources. If you eat healthy, you might be a serious culprit: Fruits and vegetables go to waste more than any other food group.

But wait, isn’t food biodegradable? Technically, yes. But if produce ends up in a landfill, it lacks access to oxygen and ends up breaking down anaerobically, which releases methane, a greenhouse gas that’s about 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide.

RELATED: 3 Ways to Waste Less Food, According to Tom Colicchio

Packaging is also a major kitchen issue: it makes up almost 30 percent of the waste sent to landfills. I was shocked to realize how many items in my cart were wrapped in single-use packaging—from produce bags to plastic tubs of nuts.

Luckily, there are many simple ways to drastically reduce both food and packaging waste. I’ve rounded up my top tips for revamping your kitchen and food shopping habits to reduce your environmental footprint and live a healthier life, below.

(Photos: Shutterstock)

low-waste lifestyle

Abby K. Cannon, JD, RD is a Nutritious Life Certified attorney-turned-dietitian who lives a very low-waste lifestyle. While practicing law in New York City, she realized her true passions were for nutrition, wellness, and the environment and so she returned to school to become a dietitian. Her food philosophy marries sustainability and nutrition. Abby’s Food Court (both the website and the practice) helps people make the best choices for their health and the environment. Stay up to date with Abby by following @abbysfoodcourt on Instagram.


About Abby K. Cannon, JD, RD, CDN
Abby is the founder of Abby's Food Court, a private nutrition practice focused on women's health and eco-friendly lifestyles.

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