Talking to kids about food waste

Food waste is bad for the planet and could be costing you hundreds of dollars a year. Here’s how to explain the issue to children—and what families can do to reduce it.

Like many working parents, Sophie Jones is pressed for time—especially when it comes to cooking for her family. “I love going to the store to pick out a rainbow of vegetables for a new recipe,” says the North Carolina small business owner. “But by the time I get the kids home from activities, I’m not using the fresh produce I bought to make dinner. I’m serving oatmeal—sometimes seven days in a row.”

Jones is hardly alone. Globally, more than one-third of food produced for humans goes unsold or uneaten. Although there’s no perfect way to measure how much of that waste occurs at the household level, the EPA estimates that it’s up to 40 percent.

That’s a big problem. The national nonprofit ReFED estimates the value of food wasted in the United States at more than $400 billion every year—about 90 billion meals’ worth of food. The FDA estimates that food waste costs a family of four about $1,500 a year.

Read This Next

Reusable bottles are great—but here’s how kids can make a major eco-impact at school.
Becoming an (almost) zero-waste family
Want your kids to be better foodies? Try mindful eating.