An official website of the United States government.

This is not the current EPA website. To navigate to the current EPA website, please go to This website is historical material reflecting the EPA website as it existed on January 19, 2021. This website is no longer updated and links to external websites and some internal pages may not work. More information »

Sustainable Management of Food

Food: Too Good to Waste Implementation Guide and Toolkit

On this page:

What is Food: Too Good to Waste?

Food: Too Good to Waste (FTGTW) consists of an implementation guide and toolkit that aim to reduce wasteful household food management practices.

  • The Implementation Guide is designed to teach local governments and community organizations how to implement a Food: Too Good to Waste campaign in their community using the Toolkit.
  • The Toolkit, which is in Appendix D of the implementation guide and posted separately below, provides behavior change and outreach tools designed to assist individuals and households to implement strategies to reduce wasted food in their homes. The FTGTW tools use community-based social marketing principles to reduce wasted food from households. A Food: Too Good to Waste campaign provides the tools in the toolkit to families and individuals to help them keep food out of landfills and more money in their pockets.

We hope this handbook will be used as a guide to start reducing wasted food in your community and home.

Top of Page

Why is Reducing Wasted Food Important?

Reducing wasted food has social, environmental and economic benefits.

  • Wasted food is a social problem: In 2018, 11.1 percent of U.S. households were food insecure at some time during the year. That is 37.2 million Americans, of which 11.2 million are children, living in food insecure households. Wholesome, nutritious food should feed people, not landfills.
  • Wasted food is an environmental problem: Food is the largest stream of materials in American trash. Once wasted food reaches landfills, it produces methane, a powerful greenhouse gas.  
  • Wasted food is an economic issue: It is estimated that at the retail and consumer levels in the United States, food loss and waste totals $161 billion dollars.

Learn more about why sustainable management of food is important

Top of Page

Who Should Use this Guide and Toolkit?

The toolkit is designed for use by households.

The implementation guide is intended for community organizations and local governments or any organization interested in reducing wasted food from households. For example, a local government or other community organization can take the lead in implementing a small-scale campaign, may participate as partners, and/or provide additional resources. Implementing a FTGTW campaign may align with organizational long-term objectives (e.g., reducing solid waste management costs, reducing carbon footprint or building a sustainable food system).

graph showing when Americans throw away food including when the product reaches the sell by date

Top of Page

Where do Potential Partners Come From?

In many cases local government will take the lead in implementing the FTGTW campaign. Other community organizations may also take the lead, may participate as partners, and may provide additional resources. Potential partners include:

  • Interested government programs that include waste management and food programs.
  • Civic or community groups and non-profits with constituencies who are part of a target audience or have an interest in related issues.
  • Food purveyors (e.g., restaurants, groceries) and other businesses.
  • Farmers markets, community supported agriculture (CSA) businesses and municipal waste management companies.
  • K-12 schools that would like to integrate information on wasted food prevention and reduction into their curriculum or colleges and universities that support sustainability programs.

Top of Page

How to Select a Target Population and Sample Size for a Small-Scale Campaign

The target population refers to the demographic that the implementing organization hopes to engage in the small-scale campaign. The sample size refers to the number of households that participate and from which the implementing organization will collect information. Generally, the target population size is larger than the sample size. A number of considerations go into selecting a target population and sample size, among these are:

  • demographics of the population the campaign is designed to reach,
  • type and amount of resources the implementing organization has available,
  • time frame planned for the campaign, and
  • implementing organization’s objectives for the campaign.

Examples of a target population may be neighbors in a residential association or members of a church congregation or similar group.

the words stop waste, measure and recover in a line with arrow pointing from stop to measure and then to recoverTop of Page

Implementation Guide and Toolkit Documents

You may need a PDF reader to view some of the files on this page. See EPA’s About PDF page to learn more.
  • Food: Too Good to Waste Implementation Guide and Toolkit (PDF)(61 pp, 4 MB, February 2016, 530-F-16-014-A)
    The FTGTW Implementation guide gives background on how an organization might implement FTGTW. It includes initial pilot findings as well as a planning guide to get started.
  • Get Smart: Take the Challenge (PDF)(3 pp, 366 K, February 2016, 530-F-16-014-B)
    The Get Smart: Take the Challenge tool consists of instructions and worksheets for households to collect and measure how much food they waste over the course of a two to six week challenge.
  • Smart Shopping: Shop with Meals in Mind (PDF)(1 pg, 192 K, February 2016, 530-F-16-014-C)
    The Smart Shopping: Shop With Meals in Mind tool provides an easy-to-use template for making shopping lists that prevent food from being wasted. It is designed to encourage meal planning and create awareness around how much food will be needed for upcoming meals.
  • Smart Storage: Fruits and Vegetables Storage Tips (PDF)(2 pp, 199 K, February 2016, 530-F-16-014-D)
    The Smart Storage: Fruit and Vegetable Storage Tips tool is a visual prompt to remind participants how to keep produce fresh.
  • Smart Prep: Prep Now, Eat Later (PDF)(1 pg, 230 K, February 2016, 530-F-16-014-E)
    The Smart Prep: Prep Now, Eat Later tool provides consumers helpful tips on preparing perishable foods soon after shopping.
  • Smart Saving: "Eat First" Sign (PDF)(1 pg, 104 K, February 2016, 530-F-16-014-F)
    The Smart Saving: "Eat First" tool is designed as a visual prompt. Households are encouraged to designate an area in the refrigerator for food that should be eaten relatively soon to prevent spoiling, and posting the prompt as a visual reminder.
  • Fact Sheet: Consider the Tomato (PDF)(1 pg, 158 K, February 2016, 530-F-16-014-H)
    This poster can be used at tabling events to highlight the impacts of reducing wasted food.
  • Food: Too Good to Waste Toolkit Workshop Presentation Slides and Notes Pages (PDF)(29 pp, 2 MB, February 2016, 530-F-16-014-G)
    An implementing organization can use this presentation to give background on why food waste is an important issue to tackle as well as information on how to reduce wasted food at home using the FTGTW toolkit materials.
  • Food: Too Good to Waste Toolkit Workshop Presentation Slides (PDF)(29 pp, 885 K, February 2016)