Challenge activity – week 1

Avoidable food waste audit.

Learn about the difference between avoidable and unavoidable food waste, and complete a household food waste audit.


Before we take action to reduce food waste, it is helpful to know how much we create in the first place! During this first week of the challenge, you are invited to audit the amount of avoidable food waste that is generated by your household, and become more aware of how much of the food you throw out was avoidable.

Unavoidable Food Waste is “the food that can’t generally be sold or eaten, such as bones, vegetable peelings, egg shells, tea bags, and coffee grounds.” Avoidable Food Waste is the opposite: “food that could have been eaten. It is thrown away because it spoils or because we made too much of it. It ends up in the compost or garbage bin” (Love Food Hate Waste Canada).

Challenge Ambassador

Rose Barcarse

Second Harvest

Rose Barcarse from Second Harvest


An audit will give you a good picture of exactly how much avoidable food waste you are accumulating – and what it’s costing you. Your goal for the Just Eat It  food waste challenge is to reduce the amount of avoidable food waste generated in your home. We’ve got the strategies to help you do this, so stick with us and we’ll take a bite out of food waste together!


  •  Distinguish between “avoidable” and “unavoidable” food waste.
  •  Assess the amount of “avoidable” food waste that is generated in your household.
  • Calculate the financial cost of avoidable food waste .


Stay positive! Getting connected to what you waste can bring up different emotions. Be kind to yourself – you are taking steps to create positive change!

If you live where there is no green bin pick-up, this is still a worthwhile activity – it will help you recognize the amount of household food waste you are generating and the amount of dollars you are wasting each week.


  • Measure your food waste: whenever a food item is discarded, categorize it as “avoidable” or “unavoidable” .
  • If you plan to weigh your waste, separate the two categories of waste into individual bins (or bags).
  • At the end of the week, weigh the avoidable food waste and calculate the approximate amount of money lost. See below.
  • If you are not weighing your food, you can make a weekly list of your avoidable food waste, itemizing what was discarded with approximate volume (e.g. 1 cup cooked rice).

Food waste table

Record how much food waste you produce in one week and calculate the cost of your avoidable food waste. Save this number, as we will do a second audit in the final week to compare. If you are making a list, you can save it for a final week comparison.

Each pound of avoidable food waste costs $3.60 on average.* If you extrapolate your avoidable food waste for one week to an entire year, how much do you get?

DateWeight (pounds)Cost (Number of lbs. x $3.60*)
Week 1E.g. 2 lbsE.g. $7.20
Week 6
Food waste table.

*The amount of $3.60 is the result of dividing $1,100 (the annual cost of avoidable food waste per household) by 308 pounds (or 140 kg) of wasted food per year by household.

Step 1: Select two bins

Label one “Avoidable”, the other “Unavoidable”

Bins for avoidable & unavoidable food waste.

Step 2: Explore your food waste

What is truly “unavoidable”?

Step 3: “Weigh-in” & Calculate

What is your starting point? How much edible food are you wasting?

Avoidable food waste.

Challenge Ambassador

Rose Barcarse

Rose is the Community Programs Manager for Second Harvest. Since 2018, she has worked directly with the 250+ Toronto based agencies Second Harvest supports by providing logistical support as well as delivering education and training workshops.

For a deeper dive on food waste in Canada, check out Second Harvest’s “The Avoidable Crisis of Food Waste: The Roadmap” report. Stay tuned: Details on the upcoming Second Harvest speaker series will be coming soon!

YouTube video

In conversation

Rose is interviewed by Erin Andrews, Founder & Executive Director of Impact Zero ( You can also watch the video on Youtube and Instagram.

Kids and families

Take 5 for the EARTH is an online resource designed by ecoCaledon to help inform, inspire and motivate families to take action on climate change.

Reflection questions

When you have collected some experiences through this week’s challenge, it’ll be time to reflect. Feel free to share your some thoughts in the Community Feed below.

  1. What was challenging (or not) about distinguishing avoidable from unavoidable food waste? 
  1. What did you find in your “collection” that was perhaps in-between?
  1. What emotions did you notice as you were attentive to discarding food waste?

Bonus activity

Take a picture at the end of the week of your waste, and share it on our community feed and your own social media.

You can “colour code” the caption according to the applicable category:

  • “My week’s waste is Red ?“ (All or mostly all avoidable food waste)
  • “My week’s waste is Blue ?” (Half avoidable and half unavoidable waste)
  • “My week’s waste is Green ?” (All or mostly all unavoidable food waste)

Add your comments and the hashtag #DdToChallenge.

Community Feed

A space for participants to share experiences, photos & questions about the Food Waste Challenge!

How to use the feed

The feed is public, but only participants can contribute.

Log in with your email.

You can embed pictures and even video (with care!) from other websites, e.g. Flickr and Youtube.

To embed something, paste a link into the textbox.

Embedding from Instagram or Facebook does not work.