Unfortunately, we all end up throwing out food. There are many reasons why this happens, but overall it comes with a huge cost, not only in the amount of money wasted, but also in terms of the environment. And that’s something to really think about, since Earth Day is next week (April 22).
Food Waste – Money Impact
Here are the numbers: In the U.S., about one pound of food per person is wasted every day. This adds up to 103 million tons (81.4 billion pounds) of food waste, or between 30% to 40% of the food supply, according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).
In terms of dollars and cents, the annual food waste in America has an approximate value of $161 billion, with the average American family of four throwing out $1,500 in wasted food per year. That’s a lot of wasted money!
Food Waste – Environmental Impact
Here’s how it impacts the environment: Food waste is the number one material in American landfills, accounting for 24.1% of all municipal solid waste, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
As food rots in a landfill, it emits methane, a greenhouse gas 28 to 36 times more potent than the carbon that comes out of passenger vehicles, according to rubicon.com. Landfills are the third-largest industrial emitter of methane, with food waste alone representing 8% of total global greenhouse gas emissions.
And, according to Project DrawDown, reducing food waste is the top solution to the climate crisis, coming in above electric cars, solar power, and plant-based diets.
What We Can Do
So what can we do to lessen the amount of food waste? According to the Washington Post,
- Make a list before you go shopping and buy only what you plan to use.
- Consider getting perishable goods from farmers markets or local greengrocers; food produced locally is usually fresher and won’t go bad as fast.
- At home, keep a list of what food you have on hand, and organize the refrigerator so you can keep track of what’s inside. Some people find it helpful to label things with the date they were purchased or cooked. Others have a system in which the oldest items go on the top shelf, so they will reach for those items first.
In addition, the rubicon.com suggests the following:
- Take leftover containers to restaurants, if they don’t provide their own.
- Use smaller plates to help you to properly portion your food.
- Don’t be afraid of an emptier fridge. When you can’t see the food you’ve purchased, you’re more likely to forget about it and let it rot.
- Keep track of the food you’re throwing away the most to cut down on trends. Add a dollar value so you can see the impact it has on your budget.
- Expiration dates can be confusing, leading many to toss out perfectly good food. Trust your sense of smell, and your gut, before throwing items away.
Do you have any tips on how to reduce food waste? Let us know in the comments section below!
Let’s all try to keep our food waste to a minimum. It’ll help your wallet and the environment!
Have a great weekend.
- Is This Still Good? The Low-Down On Expiration Dates (November 13, 2020)
We use indoor composting method that gives back in a couple ways. I don’t know how many people are familier with worms, but they were specifically ordered with a setup of several thin stackable crates. The worms, compost (just not citrus or egg shells) are put in an upper stack of the 8 crates. We put compost in a ice cream pail and as needed we then go into the utility room and rotate the bottom few stacks of crates, where the worms have now worked their way to, and place them 2nd to top. The other benefit to year round composting is the juices the worms release drains to the bottom where there is a container it is collected. That juice is known as a black liquid gold. It is so concentrated and is used for houseplants (not the leaves), gardening, and any growing projects you have. It is used in a 1:5 to 1:10 juice/water ratio. It’s a wonderful natural way to help cold grow seasons here in MN.
I love that you are addressing this! I have found a nutrition company that offers great products I use daily, and needless to say, there is no food waste with their foods!
Love this article! It’s a big problem in rural areas, because many of us don’t have stores nearby or farmers markets where we could buy as we need the fresh fruits and vegetables. It might not be quite as bad for those living in areas where you get adequate amounts of rain each season so you can grow a lot of your own produce. Living in an area like I do, we have tumble weeds and mesquite bushes but you don’t find a lot of trees to give a garden a little shade and we’re often under mandatory reduced water schedule and the cost of water is extremely high as well. I do usually throw leftovers or scraps out for wild animals that live around us. Tried composting, but either I’m doing it wrong or it’s because it doesn’t get any moisture here, so it just dries up and invites so many flies that you can’t even spend any time outdoors to enjoy nature. Also, if they emit such a huge amount of gases in the landfill, won’t it do the same when you have a composting area on your property; which would defeat its purpose. Last year I was reading an article about green house gases and it was blaming all the animals we raise for food and now it’s the food that gets thrown out. All these different things I’m sure are contributors but it seems to grow this list and before we know it, we’re at fault for breathing or releasing our own gases. I greatly support the need of reducing the gases, but when is enough, enough so we can still enjoy life a little I wonder. Sorry for the long rant here!
Try composting great for vegetable peels and all parts you do not eat. No animal or fish by-products . Go on-line to learn about composting it is easy and you have gold for your plants at no cost.
COMPOST You cannot put in meat or fish but veggies peeling like corn husks carrot tops un cooked are great. Banana peels lots of thing you put in the trash can be composted. Go on line to learn how it is great for your garden even if you just has bushes or trees.
This is a great article. My neighbors are constantly dumping food out. People just waste, waste, waste!
Portions of food that are too small for a serving often go to waste. I have a few meals that I call “Clean-out-the-refrigerator (fill in the blank)” These include soup, salad, frittata (or omelette) and stir fry. Use whatever is on it’s last leg – veggies (cooked or raw), cheeses, beans, cooked meat, etc.
1-We serve any leftovers the next day. (And make smaller quantity for the initial meal).
Very seldom have waste.
2- use produce in order of their fresh/last days. Lettuce & greens, tomatoes day 1, day 2, firmer veggies later in the week. Keep them in VIEW so you don’t forget about them (don’t hide in back of the produce drawer)
If food not consumed by humans next best thing is to give to animals! Find someone with chickens or get a few of your own! Best deal ever – food waste gets consumed and you get eggs and chicken manure (excellent fertilizer)! Next best thing to do is compost. Throwing out should only be the last resort!
I found this article very enlightening because I do have a habit of forgetting certain food items such as, grapes, and apples. I have invested in a larger freezer to help my items last longer. This is a great article. Thanks!