Amazon has given its personal assistant Alexa a handy little upgrade — she now dispenses tips on how to quit wasting food, something you’re probably already guilty of doing today. Her new “Skill” (as voice-powered apps that run on an Echo are called) is part of Save the Food’s campaign to fight food waste.
The campaign’s two creators, Ad Council and the National Resources Defense Council, helped Amazon develop the app; all you have to do is download it, and Alexa suddenly becomes an expert in everything from expiration dates to the optimal container for storing produce. (“To last as long as possible, asparagus is best stored in a vase with water in the fridge, like flowers.”)
Research last year estimated that Americans now throw away half of the food they buy. Save the Food exists to reduce this epidemic and, if it can, save people some money in the process. According to the campaign’s numbers, the average family spends $1,500 a year on food they never eat — might as well just burn it. Annually, this adds up to $218 billion worth of uneaten food in the United States alone. The group’s goal with a more environmentally aware Alexa is to give people less of an excuse: You can ask her in the middle of cleaning out the fridge if bruised apples are okay to eat, if an avocado is overripe, if wilted celery is going to kill you, and even if there’s a way to revive produce that’s past its prime. (Amazon customers who have already had a chance to toy around with it say the app is “actually helpful” and has even “been a life saver.”)
If this doofus can learn to take care of his asparagus, there is hope for America: