Don’t Let it Go To (Food) Waste

A guide to preventing food waste and saving the environment

212 To My City | Becca Miller | March 29, 2016

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This morning I was so psyched to read that Starbucks announced their new partnering with Feeding America to donate all of its unsold food products to food banks around the country. In donating the leftovers Starbucks vowed to help tackle the problems of food waste and hunger in America.

I don’t know about you — no, I’m not feeling 22 — but I have recently been overcome with Climate Change induced anxiety (I promise it’s a real thing). This past snowless winter I recurrently had a dream that the Ozone layer was falling on me, and at one point, I could not bear to leave my bed for fear that the world would end. As a Food Studies minor at NYU, I’ve learned about our food system’s need for a major overhaul. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization, currently about 30% of food produced for human consumption is wasted. This not only takes food away from those in need, but makes waste of the resources we used to grow that food: water, land and labor, among others. 

So when Starbucks announced their new plan, I started thinking about other ways I can reduce my waste in Manhattan. The following is a college kid’s guide to preventing food waste and getting a little bit closer to saving the environment:

Dumpster diving

Okay here me out. We’re all college students, and we’re all on a budget. There are plenty of people out in New York City right now looking through dumpsters of restaurants, grocery stores and other food shops to find fresh ingredients that were thrown away for one reason or another. Join the Freegan movement, its definitely cheaper than Whole Foods.

Expiration dates don’t mean shit

We were probably all taught to throw out our milk as soon that date has passed, but this is not always the case. When it comes to dairy products, if it smells or has signs of visible mold, dump it. If not, you’re good to go.


Composting is not the most elegant of ideas, at least for me, and it seems pretty difficult to do in a tiny New York apartment. But the city’s department of sanitation put together a clever map to help you find where you can drop off any leftover compostable food scraps. That way, you don’t need a backyard and a pitchfork to take on a mound of decomposing veggies.

“Food Waste Facts.” World Environment Day. United Nations Environment Program, n.d. Web. 23 Mar. 2016.

Lipinski, Brian, Craig Hanson, James Lomax, Lisa Kitinoja, Richard Waite, and Tim Searchinger. “Reducing Food Loss and Waste.” Creating a Sustainable Food Future (2013): 1-40. World Resources Institute. Web.

Malcolm, Hadley. “Starbucks Pledges to Donate 100% of Unsold Food.”USA Today. Gannett, 23 Mar. 2016. Web. 23 Mar. 2016.

“Starbucks Announces New Food Donation Program.” Starbucks Newsroom. N.p., 22 Mar. 2016. Web. 23 Mar. 2016.