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Food Waste Prevention works best in modern browsers like Firefox, Safari, Chrome, or Internet Explorer 8. All are free to download and will greatly improve your internet experience. Reducing and recycling organic waste is a top priority for Californians and us here in Santa Barbara County. Cutting back on food waste and putting the correct materials in our green containers are important ways to divert waste from the landfill. Learn more about green container programs in your area, backyard composting, food waste reduction, and other ways to reduce or recycle organic waste in this section. Businesses should also get involved!

Reducing organic waste is a top priority for Californians and us here in Santa Barbara County. In fact, California has taken legislative action on this. Senate Bill 1383 (SB 1383) is a new law designed specifically to help Californians reduce the amount of organic waste going to the landfill. You can read more about SB 1383 and how it affects Santa Barbara County by clicking here.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that a family of four can save more than $2,000 a year by implementing simple methods to reduce food waste:

  • Make a plan before you go shopping and buy only what you'll use.
    • Before you go shopping, pick out a few key recipes and know the staples that you will use before your next grocery trip.
    • Make a list of everything you will need, and note when you will use each item.
    • Lastly, confirm that you have enough proper storage space for each food item you purchase.

Food Forward Grocery Shopper

  • Inventory and use what you have before you buy more.
    • Check out the food you already have. Pick new recipes that include food items you need to use up, or spices that are growing old on your shelves.
    • Put items that are near their expiration date in the front of your cabinet or fridge so you use them first.
    • Speaking of expiration dates, some dates on food are only to show when the food should be sold or when it’s at peak quality. Many food items are good, days to years after their expiration date. Visit our page on Food Expiration Guidelines for more info.
    • Finally, store your food properly! Make sure your food is stored correctly so it can retain quality. Save the Food offers many storage tips.
  • Be creative by using the edible parts of foods that you normally throw away (e.g. make stock for soups or sauces, sauté  beet tops, make croutons from stale bread).
  • Donate healthy, safe, and untouched foods to food banks.
  • Freeze, preserve, or can surplus fruits and vegetables.
  • Know how much food you're actually wasting by measuring your waste (either by weight or volume). offers many recipes, freezing, and storing tips to prevent food waste.

See our Food Expiration Guidelines for additional tips on reducing food waste, or download our new Food Forward booklet.

Our department, in partnership with Explore Ecology, also created this education video on food waste reduction. Check it out below!

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