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5 Questions with Chris Cochran - Executive Director of ReFED

1. What motivated your personal interest in sustainability and food waste reduction?

After college, I was living and working in Honduras with small farmers. I saw how much goes into producing our food. Later working in grocery retail, I witnessed the waste throughout the supply chain. It seemed like such a shame to just throw food away. It also felt like a highly solvable problem with a lot of progress to be made. It's one of the few issues I’ve worked on that has such broad-based support and a wide-range of benefits financially, environmentally and socially.

2. Can you share a story about a food waste hero who inspired you?

My grandma was born in a generation where you did not waste. It is a natural part of who she is. She knows how to find a use for everything in her kitchen and always makes sure to use leftovers.  This is the result of coming out of a generation so affected by the Great Depression and a time where food was scarce. In an age of abundance, we have lost this mentality, but she is inspirational to me in the way that I view food waste.

3. What change have you made personally to be more mindful?

I do meal planning, create a list, and go grocery shopping with it. This means I only purchase what I know I will eat. I also think carefully about how hungry I am before ordering food. I often split dishes depending on my level of hunger.

4. What will it take for America to make food waste a priority?

The first step in solving the problem is admitting we have one.  Then we need to face food waste as an opportunity. There is also a lot to be learned through observing our practices at home or in the workplace. You can learn a lot simply by taking a look at what you throw away.

5. What is one small change every person can make in their daily lives to make a big difference?  

I think everyone can make sure they purchase food based on what they need and will actually consume, rather than over-purchasing.