With millions of people going hungry each day in this country and across the globe, the critical issue
of food waste and the major role it plays in global warming and climate change is a deeply-disturbing
reality that we all have a responsibility to change.
It’s been suggested that, were food wastage a country, it would be the largest source of global greenhouse
gas emissions after China and the USA. Emitting both CO2 and methane as it breaks down, food is the
largest solid waste contributor to landfills.
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations estimates that a third of the food produced
in the world is never eaten, with the United States alone wasting approximately $165 billion worth of food
From futuristic tech gadgets to simple common-sense solutions, I am delighted to share this insightful
guest post by Maria Ramos that explores many ways to implement the thinking of a food waste
crusader in the kitchen.
“Reducing the amount of
food waste your home generates
isn’t just good for the planet —
it can save you money too.”
Even as millions of people go hungry on a daily basis, an innumerable amount of food is still wasted
worldwide each and every day.
According to a UNEP report, about one-third of all the food produced worldwide, worth around
$1 trillion, is discarded or otherwise wasted.
In a world full of hunger and need, these statistics are both shocking and disappointing.
Not only does such waste drive up the price of foodstuffs by decreasing supply, but it also has
serious environmental consequences.
“We’ve become so accustomed to
throwing away perfectly good food
but are unaware of its impact
on our environment.”
In poorer countries, a lot of food fails to even make it to market due to inadequate refrigeration
technology, a lack of pesticides, poor transportation infrastructure and other problems that cause
food to spoil or rot quicker.
Here in the developed world, things are a bit different: most of the wasted food is discarded by
Food waste is the single-largest source of waste in municipal landfills.
According to the EPA, 35 billion pounds of food were thrown away in 2011.
As it decomposes in landfills, the waste releases methane and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.
Meanwhile, 1 in 7 Americans struggles with hunger and the world wonders how to address the challenge of
feeding 9 billion people by 2050.
The Problem with Expiration Dates
We have become so obedient of printed expiration dates and the outward appearance of foodstuffs,
that we end up throwing away food that’s still perfectly edible – many people are not aware that
these are merely guidelines and the food is, many times, good days past the printed date.
All the resources that go into the production of food that ultimately fails to be eaten are essentially
wasted as well.
This includes water for irrigation, fertilizers and other chemical compounds, and the gasoline used
to move agricultural products around the world and ultimately to store shelves.
“According to the UN Food and Agriculture
Organisation, food waste accounts for
nearly 3.3 Gt of carbon dioxide equivalent
Wasted food contributes to global CO2 output
Agriculture is a fairly carbon-intensive process, so wasted food contributes to global CO2 output,
having a rather large effect on global warming.
According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation, food waste accounts for nearly 3.3 Gt of
from about 20 million SUVs! If the amount of waste could simple be cut in half, that alone would
drastically improve its overall environmental impact.
The full economic, environmental and social costs of food loss and waste are explored in this video
produced by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.
How You Can Prevent Food Waste!
There are numerous ways to prevent food waste – there is no excuse!
Despite the size of this problem, there are a few easy ways that regular individuals can help.
*Purchase What You Plan to Eat
By only purchasing what you actually intend to eat, you can spare your wallet while simultaneously helping to save the environment.
*Avoid Impulse Purchases
Grocery shopping on a full stomach is recommended as you’ll be less likely to make impulse purchases of food if you’re not hungry.
*Refrigerate and Store Food Properly
After bringing your groceries home, make sure to use proper refrigeration and storage techniques to reduce spoilage.
*Save and Re-Use Leftovers
As you cook and eat your meals, save your leftovers, and remember to eat them later.
*Don’t Toss on the Expiration Date
When expiration and best-before dates approach, bear in mind that they’re just guidelines.
*If You Have Too Much, Donate It
Even with your best efforts, some food is likely to go to waste, but you might be able to
donate it to charity before it goes bad.
*Make Compost, Not Waste
Finally, it’s far better to use your wasted food for composting instead of throwing it away.
*Use Helpful Food Waste Apps
You can use modern technology to assist you in your efforts as well.
The Green Egg Shopper app will enable you to identify the real expiration dates of certain
food items rather than trusting in the information provided by the manufacturer.
With the Fridge Pal app, you can enter in the items you have, and it will show you recipes
using those foods, allowing you to eat what you have rather than buying new products.
LeftoverSwap is an app that allows users to swap their leftovers with each other, although
some caution is warranted when trusting in the honestly and sanitary acumen of strangers.
The benefits of reducing food waste are incredibly valuable for our Earth and ourselves.
“Food waste is a problem that has
certain negative consequences:
increased global warming,
expensive food prices and
Waste Less Food, Reap Big Benefits
If we cut back on the amount of food that goes to waste every year, we’ll see levels of greenhouse
gas emissions get lower and in addition, the problems that come from over farming, such as
desertification and deforestation, will be reduced.
There are even some experiments being undertaken focusing on the use of food waste as fuel.
Although it’s too early to tell if these efforts will prove fruitful, they might have a place alongside
solar and wind power as a way of using renewable energy resources in agriculture.
Food waste is a problem that has certain negative consequences: increased global warming,
expensive food prices and environmental degradation.
As the global population continues to increase, we’ll need to marshal as much food as we can to keep
everyone fed, so tackling food waste is a very important and timely issue.
Fortunately for us, most of the steps required to do so are easy, cost-effective and possible with
Waste Less Now!
Check out smart food storage practices you can apply right now from this valuable infographic,
courtesy of Pounds to Pocket.
It illustrates valuable tips you can use to help you make your fresh food last longer.
Source: How To Make Fresh Food Last Longer [Infographic] by the team at Pounds to Pocket
About the Author:
Maria Ramos is a freelance writer currently living in Chicago. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from the University of Illinois at Chicago with a minor in Communication. She blogs about environmentally friendly tips, technological advancements, and healthy active lifestyles.
What are you doing to reduce food waste in your home?
Share your thoughts and comments with us.