Food Waste: What You Can Do
By Tayler Jenkins
Did you know that 40 percent of food in the U.S. is never eaten? Much of it is tossed out before it even makes it to households, and the average American home throws out 14 to 25 percent of their food (an increase of 50 percent over the past 50 years, and also 10 times as much waste as Southeast Asians). Monetarily, this comes out to be about $165 billion of food wasted every year. It has environmental impacts, too: 25 percent of all freshwater and 300 million barrels of oil are what it takes to produce the food that goes to waste globally. Most of this ends up in landfills, contributing to emissions of the greenhouse gas methane. Indeed, landfill food alone is responsible for 23 percent of methane emissions in the U.S.
What can we do about this? A great way to make a difference is by composting food scraps. Currently, only about 3 percent of tossed food is composted, but we have the potential to do so much better! Additionally, before visiting the grocery store or farmer’s market, plan out what you will buy to ensure that you only take what you know you will be able to eat. Know what’s in your fridge and cupboards so that you can keep an eye on food that may soon go bad. Many foods can be frozen and then consumed at a later date. At grocery stores, the oddly-shaped produce is often left behind by customers and then thrown out. Purchase these and you are consuming something that might otherwise have been wasted. Also, when you go out to eat, be sure to take home leftovers to finish later.
Most importantly, spread the word. Tell others what they can do to make a difference. The more people know about food waste and the issues surrounding it, the more we can all work together to minimize our impacts and mend the system.