How often do you shop for groceries? Once a week or several times a week? Most families shop for food at least once a week — whether that’s at a supermarket, a superstore, a farmers market, a specialty grocery store or some combination of these resources. Yet most families not only buy food frequently — they throw it away often, as well.

In fact, food waste is an ongoing issue, especially in the U.S. It’s estimated that 40% of food is wasted annually. A typical family of four tosses about $1,500 worth of food every year. That is the equivalent of 80 million pounds, totaling $161 billion in food waste. This kind of waste is a huge contributor to landfills, as food is the primary component of landfills, making up nearly one-quarter of landfill garbage. Dairy products are the most likely to be thrown out, but fruits and vegetables are also prime targets for food waste.

One of the primary reasons for food waste is spoilage. That said, food is often thrown out that is still edible. People may not understand expiration dates or toss food that they simply no longer want to eat. That’s the bad news. The good is that there are several ways you can help food last longer — reducing the amount of food waste you create, helping you save money on groceries, and protecting the planet.

First, it’s smart to track what you are throwing out when it comes to food. What types of food are you discarding? Are you tossing food every week because it’s gone bad, or do you simply not want to eat it anymore? How much money is going into your garbage can? If you already have a compost heap, compost as much leftover food as possible to reduce food waste. Also, consider freezing food if you realize you won’t be able to use it right away. Do you tend to overbuy groceries, only to have food go bad? Planning a weekly menu before shopping can help reduce impulse spending and encourage you to buy only what you need.

Upgrading your refrigerator or adding a purification system to your refrigerator that uses ionization and ozone technology to reduce ethylene can extend the life of food in your fridge. Storing vegetables and fruits properly can also keep them from spoiling quickly. The accompanying infographic describes more about proper food storage.

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This article was created by the experts at Greentech Enviornmental.