Address the Excess: A Recipe for Cutting Food Waste – Peter Lehner


Peter Lehner was once a mountain climber. When you carry 30 days of food on your back, the motto is strict: waste not, want not. At home our habits become much more relaxed. In the US, 40% of the food grown is wasted. Peter discusses his solutions to this huge problem.


Publications & Reports



Check out author Jonathan Blooms’ blog Wasted Food, NRDC food waste expert Dana Gunders’ contributions to Switchboard, and LoveFoodHateWaste, the brainchild of a UK-based initiative working to share easy and practical everyday solutions to reducing food waste.


Little Things You Can Do

  1. Find out how long food and beverages really stay fresh, and how best to store them. Use Still Tasty and EatByDate to find out how long different foods last. Understand what food expiration dates really mean, get informed on the shelf life of common pantry items, and figure out how to tell if something is okay to eat.
  2. Consider using food scraps and leftovers in another dish rather than tossing them. Find great recipes for using odds and ends at LoveFoodHateWaste and Supercook.
  3. Learn how to compost. Online guides abound! Check out the EPA Guide to Composting or Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s Guide to Composting Organic Waste. If that’s not up your alley, Find A Composter and just drop it off! Many states, cities and towns have local initiatives, like the NYC Compost Project
  4. If you work at a school or any type of food-based business, your organization can join the Food Waste Challenge! You can’t join as an individual, but they do have great resources for reducing waste in the home.

If you’re feeling inspired, here’s a longer list of tips and tricks for reducing food waste!


Discussion Questions

Use these questions as a guide for starting conversations with your friends and family about food waste and Peter Lehner’s talk.  Add your own questions as you think of them.

  • Discuss potential sources of waste throughout the food system. At which steps do you predict there would be the greatest source of waste and why? The least?
  • Food waste touches on other social issues. Discuss its impact on the environment and human health.
  • Imagine your own daily interactions with food. Where and how often do you waste food? Try generating a list of 5-10. For each way you waste food, is there a solution? Rank the solutions from most doable to least doable and discuss.
  • At what level – personal, organizational, or governmental – is it most critical to take action now to reduce waste in our food system?


Lesson Plans


Food Waste Lesson – Level 1


Food Waste Lesson – Level 2



Food Recovery Network

Are you a college student or the parent of a college student? The Food Recovery Network is a nonprofit that fights food waste on college campuses and donates recovered food to the community.

Food Shift

Food Shift is an organization that works with communities, businesses and governments to shift towards more sustainable food practices.

Food Waste Reduction Alliance

Food Waste Reduction Alliance is a unique resource because it is a group formed by the food industry to address food waste!

Natural Resources Defense Council

Natural Resources Defense Council, Peter Lehner’s organization, includes facts and additional resources about food waste on the NRDC website.

Say No to Food Waste

Say No to Food Waste is an international nonprofit that works to bring more attention to food waste and its solutions, striving to make it a problem of the past. Check it out to find the facts, studies, and what you can do to make a difference.