• Food waste is a growing issue and many people are unaware of the environmental consequences.
• The production and disposal of food waste causes greenhouse gas emissions, pollutes waterways, and contributes to climate change.
• There are several measures individuals can take to reduce their food waste such as meal planning, buying only what you need, composting, and donating excess food.
The Growing Problem of Food Waste
Food waste has become a growing problem with serious environmental consequences. Every year, consumers in the United States throw away up to 40% of their food; this amount is estimated at over $165 billion worth of wasted food annually. Not only does this have an economic cost but it also has an environmental cost as well.
Environmental Consequences of Food Waste
The production and disposal of all this wasted food can lead to increased greenhouse gas emissions which contribute to climate change. Similarly, landfills where much of this food waste ends up produce methane which is a powerful greenhouse gas that further exacerbates climate change. Further still, when organic matter like decomposing food reaches waterways it can cause eutrophication – an imbalance in the water’s nutrient levels which can harm aquatic life and cause algal blooms that make drinking water unsafe for humans as well as animals.
Reducing Food Waste
Given its far-reaching impacts on the environment there are several steps individuals can take to reduce their own contribution to the global problem of food waste:
Plan out meals for each day or week so you know exactly what you will be eating and how much groceries you need to buy.
Buy What You Need
Avoid impulse buys by making a grocery list before shopping so you do not end up purchasing more than what is necessary.
CompostingComposting involves collecting organic material such as kitchen scraps into one container where it will decompose over time into soil conditioner or fertilizer.
Donating Excess Food h3 > If you have extra groceries or prepared meals consider donating them to local organizations that help feed those in need instead of throwing them away.