A Craigslist for leftovers could minimize food waste and hunger


Can technology help solve our food waste problem? One New York City official thinks so. Council Member Rafael Espinal has proposed launching a website that would help keep leftover food out of landfills by diverting it from grocery stores and restaurants to nonprofits, food banks, and soup kitchens.

This could help minimize two problems:  The methane gas emitted by food scraps, and hunger—an estimated 16 percent of New Yorkers go to bed hungry every night.

Other nonprofits, including Rescue Leftover Cuisine and City Harvest, are already working to redistribute leftovers. But Espinal’s bill, which is expected to be sent to the Council by summer’s end, would be the only city-managed platform and actually require restaurants and stores to post availability of excess food for rescue by nonprofits.

The issue of food waste goes well beyond New York, of course. It’s estimated that one third of food produced worldwide is squandered or lost.

Takeaway: Dealing with leftovers at its source is efficient. So what can each of us do to minimize food waste?

  1. Don’t over-serve. Limiting portion sizes can go a long way. Using smaller plates can help.
  2. Shop realistically. If your family rarely finishes an entire gallon of milk by the expiration date, buy a half gallon next time.
  3. Make a point of using your leftovers. Store them in easy-to-find containers and look for ways to add them to lunch or dinner.
  4. Compost. Separate food waste from landfill waste so it can be turned into a nutrient-rich soil fertilizer.

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