Solid Waste & Recycling Newsletter

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation
DEC Delivers - Information to keep you connected and informed from the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation
Share or view as a web page || Update preferences or unsubscribe

Solid Waste & Recycling Newsletter 

Wasting Less Food in Just 30 Days

30 Day Wasted Food Challenge

We look at January 1st as a new chapter, a time to start fresh. However, if you find the idea of drafting up a new list of New Year’s resolutions a bit too abstract, our 30-day wasted food challenge might be a fit, focusing on doing small tasks each day in order to build habits that will stick.

Forty percent of all food produced in the US goes uneaten. Wasted food is a major contributor to multiple environmental and social problems that we face today – and most of this waste is happening right under our noses! ReFED estimates US households alone waste 76 billion pounds of food annually, costing each household an average of $1,800 per year!

Throughout January, we’ll be leading you through a 30-day wasted food challenge. You can accomplish this challenge in a number of ways, and by the end, we will help you throw away less food in your kitchen, save money, and benefit our environment.

  • Week 1: Recognize what food you’re already throwing away
  • Week 2: Develop a plan
  • Week 3: Take action
  • Week 4: Reflect

Week 1: Recognize What Food You’re Already Throwing Away
Spend the first few days of your challenge jotting down all of the food you throw away – uneaten leftovers, scraps from dinner, food that’s gone bad, etc. This will help you gain a sense of what, why, and how food is getting wasted through the course of your normal day.
Pro tip: Take photos and share! Public accountability can help you stick to your goals. You’ll probably even gain a few supporters along the way, rooting you on!

Week 2: Develop a Plan
Now that you know where your waste is coming from, you can research ways to avoid it! Spend time getting familiar with ways to avoid wasting food.

Some examples:

  • Start meal planning for the week ahead. Paired with a shopping list, this can help reduce overbuying at the grocery store and take the guess work out of each night’s food choices.
  • Look up creative ways to store and display your leftovers, and incorporate an “Eat This First” container or area so you can prioritize items before they go bad.
  • Watch this video to learn about meal planning, storage, and prep tips with Tompkins County.
  • Expand your recipe collection with recipes that incorporate commonly wasted foods such as peels, roots, trimmings, and bones.
  • Practice preserving food via freezing, jarring, or pickling.
  • Learn the difference between “sell by,” “use by,” “best by,” and expiration dates.

Week 3: Take Action
Use your new-found knowledge and apply these techniques to real life. For the next two weeks, work hard on implementing the strategies you’ve learned to minimize the amount of food you throw out. Pack up those leftovers, designate a day for meal prep, and figure out your perfect serving size. The world is your oyster!

“Oh no, I messed up!”
Don’t panic! We’re aiming for progress, not perfection. Learn from any mishaps, and pick the momentum back up at your next meal!

Week 4: Reflect
Look at what you’ve managed to accomplish across this past month with a little planning and a fresh perspective! You can now assess the lessons you’ve learned and use them to help you implement new habits and waste reduction techniques to waste less food.

Share with others. Now that you’ve successfully chomped through this 30-day challenge, share your journey with the world. You can help others! Post tips and tricks, favorite recipes, or things that may have surprised you along the way to encourage friends and family to join the challenge themselves!

Let us know how you're doing at

What Interests You In 2021? Tell Us Your Thoughts

As 2020 comes to a close and we say hello to a new year, we'd like to take a moment to thank all of our readers and those who have written us with questions, suggestions and events in their communities. As we move into 2021, we want to further cater our content to your interests. Please complete a short survey on what you would like to see in the Solid Waste & Recycling newsletter in 2021.

United States Composting Council Updates

The US Composting Council (USCC) advances compost manufacturing, compost utilization, and organics recycling to benefit their members, society, and the environment.

  • Attend Compost2021 January 26-27, 2021: Learn more about Virtual Compost2021.
  • Webinar January 13, 2021 - There's More Than One Way To Recycle Food Scraps: Traditional composting is not the only method of managing food waste. Join the USCC Young Professionals Group to learn about three exciting alternatives to producing the black gold we all love. Each method will be presented by an industry leader who has first hand experience with Bokashi, Vermicomposting, and Black Soldier Flies. Register now!


Conferences, Workshops & Webinars

Funding/RFP Opportunities - Application Deadlines

We Want To Hear From You!

Is there a topic you'd like to learn more about or a public event or workshop related to recycling (organics, textiles, traditional recyclables, etc.) you'd like the greater community to know more about? E-mail us at and it could be featured in an upcoming Solid Waste & Recycling Newsletter.