When we picture the things that are hurting the planet, we typically think of air pollution, too many cars on the roads, oil spills, etc. We typically do not think of food waste. But, in the U.S., about 40 percent of food that is produced never gets eaten. This translates to 365 million pounds of food per day that is wasted.
Food Waste Hurts the Planet
Why is food waste hurting the planet? Well, think about all of the water, land, labor and energy that we use to produce food. Couple that will the pollution created by the food industry and packaging that is not eco-friendly. In addition, there are transportation and storage costs.
If we were to image that food waste is a country, it would be the third biggest emitter of greenhouse gasses, after the U.S. and China.
Inspiring Solutions to Food Waste Problem
I think a lot of the waste in our society does come down to choice, and wanting to have the option to eat something at any time, whether or not we use it. ~ Dana Gunders, Natural Resources Defense Council
Dana Gunders, senior scientist of the Natural Resources Defense Council, and M. Sanjayan, senior scientist at Conservation International, wanted to understand why people waste so much food. Their research discovered that people do not like to see empty “white” space when it comes to food. Thus, we have a tendency to overfill our plates and jam-pack our refrigerators.
Gunders and Sanjayan worked with residential dining services at University of California in Santa Barbara. They found that when the dining halls did away with food trays, students stopped over-loading trays with food. This reduced the food waste per person per tray by 50 percent.
The researchers identified two other interesting trends. First, the average household refrigerator volume has increased 15 percent over the last 35 years. Second, the dinner plate has grown by 36 percent since 1960. So, we are now overfilling larger plates and filling up even more space in our refrigerators.
How often do you find something in the back of your fridge that is way outdated, rotten or moldy? Do you think this would happen if your refrigerator was smaller?
Rampant Food Insecurity
Food insecurity continues to be a big problem in the U.S. On average, one in every eight Americans don’t always have a steady supply of food. We are not talking about some third-world country. This is the U.S., one of the riches countries in the world! Food insecurity should not be happening when there are hundreds of pounds of untouched, uneaten, perfectly edible food going to waste.
Consequently, just raising awareness about the situation helps. The simple fact is that no one likes throwing out food. Most people would be eager to change their habits to reduce food waste.
University of California has created some simple guidelines to help you waste less food. Please visit climate.universityofcalifornia.edu for more. Take the steps to become more conscientious about how much food you buy, serve, donate and waste.
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