Seattle Public Utilities Mami Hara, General Manager/CEO

Prevent Food Waste

Food: Too Good To Waste

Composting is a great way to reduce waste ending up in the landfill, but it’s even better to eat the food we purchase than to compost it. In a recent study, Seattle households estimated that about 1/3 of all food scraps they throw out could’ve been avoided. This includes foods that went bad before being eaten and leftovers no one wanted to eat.

That rotten apple isn’t the only thing going into your food and yard waste cart, though. You’re also throwing away all the water, energy and other resources used to grow that apple and get it to your plate. That’s a lot of waste!

Follow the tips below to prevent wasted food. It's not only good for the environment, but it can also save you money!

Food date labeling

While no one wants to eat food that’s no longer safe to eat, we also don’t want to throw out perfectly edible food before its time. The USDA Food Product Dating Fact Sheet explains what date labels really mean for food safety and how to store foods based on date labels. Here’s a quick reference guide:

  • “Sell-By” date tells the store how long to display the product for sale. You should buy the product before the date expires.
  • “Best if Used By (or Before)” date is recommended for best flavor or quality. It is not a purchase or safety date. Foods with a “best before” date should be safe to eat after the date, but they may no longer be at their best quality.
  • “Use-By” date is the last date recommended for the use of the product while at peak quality.
  • “Closed or coded dates” are packing numbers for use by the manufacturer.

Food storage

One way to waste less food is by storing foods to make them last longer.


Wondering how to make those leftovers delicious the second time around, or how to use up an abundance of fruits and vegetables from your garden? Try these great web sites for some tasty ideas:

  • BigOven will find you recipes based on the ingredients you enter in the search box.
  • King County has some great recipes for leftovers developed by PCC Natural Markets.