When your mom used to draw lines from the string beans on your plate to her stories of children starving in Africa, she was right, it turns out.
We in the U.S. waste too much food, and, according to a report issued in August by the Stockholm International Water Institute, tossing away uneaten food also wastes the water used to grow and process it. This is critical because we can't take drinkable water for granted even here in America. And those in the developing world, where much of our food is grown, are often in dire need of it.
If we buy food and toss it out without using it, or we let it sit in the cupboard gathering dust, that's money out of our pockets that could have been better spent -- or maybe even tucked away in savings.
According to the institute, as much as half of the water used to grow food around the world is wasted on food that goes uneaten. Halving that amount by 2025 is crucial to maintaining a food and water supply that can sustain all of us.Here are some eye-opening numbers: In the U.S., we throw away 30% of our food every year, according to the institute. That wastes enough water to meet the needs of every household in North America for a year. It also wastes more than $48 billion a year, the report found.
So when you go to the market, buy less food.
A radical, but not unreasonable, move would be to look in your shopping cart the next time you're weaving toward the checkout counter and take out one-third of the items you thought you wanted to by. (Or go over your shopping list and cross off one-third of the items before you leave home.) Maybe you don't really need the Hershey (STOCK QUOTE: HSY) chocolate bars and the Keebler (STOCK QUOTE: KBL) cookies. Maybe your family actually can settle for one flavor of juice and one type of milk. Maybe it's time to admit that those bulk-size items you grab at Costco (STOCK QUOTE: COST) often go stale or that your fickle kids usually get bored before you make your way through them.