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.
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