Spoiled food is costing Oregon households real money. In fact, every year the average household loses $1,600 by throwing away spoiled food. And while many people are already taking steps to reduce food waste, research funded by the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) found that 85% of Oregon households agreed they could do more to reduce food spoilage. To help motivate people to take simple steps to reduce food waste, DEQ launched a new statewide campaign and website that uses humor and cost-saving messages to inspire households to reduce the amount of food they throw away at home. The new campaign, referred to as “Bad Apple,” is the result of extensive research that found that saving money is the primary driver for people to reduce food waste versus, for example, climate change mitigation that can be realized by keeping food waste out of the landfill.
It’s estimated that 25% to 40% of all food produced or imported for consumption is never eaten, and in Oregon, as much as 70% of all food tossed might have been eaten if simple steps had been taken like storing it well, not forgetting it in the fridge, or even freezing it to use later. “Our goal is for fresher foods, happier eaters and fuller wallets,” says Elaine Blatt, Senior Policy Analyst at DEQ. “It also takes time, energy and heart to grow and deliver our food to the table, and we want to honor the important efforts of the many people who make our meals possible.” When food goes uneaten, the resources used to produce it go to waste as well – growing, cooling, processing, transporting, storing, cooking, and ultimately disposing of food all have an enormous greenhouse gas emissions footprint, notes DEQ.
The campaign also focuses on Oregon’s favorite foods — especially Oregon-grown fruits and vegetables — that are most readily prone to spoil, with specific tips on how to how to keep them fresher longer and save money.