Easy Actions, Massive Impact: How Students Can Reduce Food Waste

Post contributed by Ruthie Wofford, Communications Coordinator, Hunger Solutions Institute

Photo of Trash Hunger campaign materials.
Campus resources exist to help you fight food waste and hunger.

As a recent Auburn grad, I can attest to the fact that life as a college student is, in a word, hectic. Between studying, group projects, football games, maintaining a social life, and attempting to get enough sleep, you’re lucky to eat three square meals a day. Unfortunately, with all the chaos that college creates, it can be very hard to be a socially conscious student. For example, if you’re running late for class, you might grab a plastic water bottle instead of grabbing your Nalgene. If you’re stressed out from a long day of studying, you may be tempted to take a lengthy shower. The list goes on and on.

While socially and ecologically responsible actions may seem like a lot of work, fortunately, there are some easy steps you can take to save money, help hungry people, and protect the environment – and they all involve food waste.

Each year, the average college student wastes 142 pounds of food a year. 22,000,000 pounds of uneaten food is thrown away on university campuses annually. On a global scale, around 1 in 9 people are hungry, yet we throw away a collective 1.3 billion tons of food. Food waste is extremely harmful to the planet and costs the average American household about $640 a year.

So how can you, a college student, reduce the amount of food you waste?

Plan Ahead

Didn’t have time to finish that gallon of milk? Is that peach getting a little too fuzzy? Save money, time, and the environment by keeping track of what you throw away so you can remember what to buy less of next time. Then make a grocery list! Instead of wandering through the aisles of your local grocery store, follow the list so you don’t buy anything unnecessary.

Save your Leftovers

If you’re running late to your next class, keep your half-eaten Chick-Fil-A sandwich with you. Every food vendor on campus uses convenient to-go packaging, so you can save your purchase as snack for after class.

Raise Awareness

If you waste food sometimes, chances are your friends do too. Reducing food waste is an easy way to save money, help the environment, and end hunger – why not tell everyone you can? Share facts on social media, host a forum or film screening, and/or organize an awareness campaign with your friends.

Join a campus organization

Auburn University’s chapter of The Campus Kitchen Project collects unserved food from dining halls, repackages the food, and distributes it to hungry students and Auburn community members. Volunteering is easy and you can go whenever you have time. Sign up on their AU Involve page to get started.

There are a lot of resources out there to help you get started on your path to food waste reduction! Remember, easy lifestyle changes can make a huge in the long run. For more information, check out Trash Hunger, Not Food: A Guide to End Food Waste on Campus

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