Many factors contribute to climate change, from the products we use to the cars we drive. However, the biggest contributor might be unexpected. It’s from something we all do every day: eat.
Food waste is a significant, yet often underrated, concern. An overwhelming amount of food is wasted annually in the world, 1.3 billion tonnes to be exact. This can be attributed to poor harvest conditions, businesses tossing uneaten meals and leftovers, people misreading labels and expiration dates, or a lack of understanding of how to use certain products. With approximately one-third of all food going to waste and hundreds of millions of people going hungry, it is vital to seek out solutions.
After food is grown and processed, it is shipped off to stores, and eventually ends up in our homes. Unfortunately, an unproportionate amount of household food is typically thrown into the trash and sent to landfills. Even worse, biodegradable food scraps cannot decompose in these landfills due to a poor environment surrounded by plastics and other garbage. All of the leftover food waste produces methane (a greenhouse gas) which contributes to pollution and ozone depletion. In fact, 14.1 percent of methane production in 2017 was attributed to food waste.
Luckily, there are several ways to easily reduce food waste in your personal life:
- Plan grocery trips — Creating a plan is the best way to ensure you are buying groceries effectively. You will buy the right amount of food and likely skip on extras.
- Compost! — What better way is there to not let fruit and vegetable scraps go in the trash than composting? Any food scraps can be broken down into organic material and be reused with the proper environment. This way your scraps can be reused by the earth as a fertilizer! You can start a compost bin in or outside of your home or find a composting program in your community to be a part of.
- Your freezer is your friend — All frozen foods retain their nutritional value and last longer. If you don’t think you’ll use a certain food or meal in the near future, freeze it! That way you will have it waiting for you whenever you please.
- Donate — Any nonperishable goods you aren’t going to eat can be donated, as long as they are fresh. Remember, everyone deserves access to high-quality foods.
- Be creative — You may not have known there are recipes for watermelon rinds, banana peels, and orange peels. Use the internet or create your own ways to inventively utilize these commonly thrown-out goods.
- Taking small steps everyday can add up to affect greater change and end up saving lots of food.