There are so many things that we buy so that we can use less energy. From CFL light bulbs to hybrid cars, we spend a lot of money in our attempts to be kinder to the earth.

What if we could cut back energy consumption in the United States by two percent each year without spending any money? What if you, as a consumer, could actually save some money while helping to decrease energy usage?

Wouldn’t you think that if that type of energy savings was possible, we’d be doing it already? Well, according to the American Chemistry Society, that type of energy savings is possible, but we’re literally throwing away our opportunity save the energy equivalent of 350 million barrels of oil each year.

This waste comes in the form of food that gets produced but never eaten. The United States Department of Agriculture estimates that 27 percent of food in the country ends up being thrown away instead of getting consumed.

The scientists involved with the study concluded that “the waste might represent a largely unrecognized opportunity to conserve energy and help control global warming.”

You can help put a dent in the amount of food wasted by being more careful with the food in your own kitchen. Eat your leftovers before they go bad by finding creative ways to use up things like burger buns or spaghetti sauce. Every once in a while, dig in your pantry to see what’s in the back that needs to get used.

You can look in the grocery store for marked down items like fresh bread and meat with looming sell-by dates. Often stores mark those items down for quick sale. You can buy them inexpensively and store them in your freezer until you’re ready to use them. You’ll keep them from ending up in the store’s dumpster and you can save some cash.

If everyone took these easy, money saving ideas, it would be a good start in chipping away at that two percent of energy we waste each year just from throwing away perfect good food.


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Robin Shreeves ( @rshreeves ) focuses on food from a family perspective from her home base in New Jersey.

Eat your leftovers and curb global warming
If retailers and consumers stopped wasting food, the energy savings would be significant.