Last Call: Food Waste Ends Today
Nearly 40% of all food produced in America is wasted, while 49 million Americans are struggling to put food on the table. Worldwide, we are producing enough food to feed the world not once, not twice, but three times over. Still, one in ten people are malnourished globally, and their situations are only worsening as climate change exacerbates food insecurity around the world.
Food waste, food insecurity, and climate change are all intimately linked in our world today.
Overall, Americans waste 133 billion pounds of food every year, and food waste makes up 20% of our nation’s landfills. In these landfills alone, food waste emits more than 3.3 billion metric tons of CO2 equivalent annually, largely in the form of methane, a gas 25-30 times more potent at warming our atmosphere than CO2. Put that in perspective: if food waste were a country, it would be the third largest emitter of greenhouse gases behind the US and China. In contrast, when we compost food, we are actually extracting CO2 from the atmosphere and creating a carbon sink in the soil. By all estimates, composting is a better use of food waste than sending it to landfill; however, only 5% of food is composted annually in the United States.
While there are many overwhelming things happening in the environment that we can not control, we can control the amount of food we waste, and how we dispose of it. The best way an individual can reduce their food waste is by not wasting it in the first place: planning out meals and grocery store visits, organizing food in the fridge so food that will expire first is towards the front of the fridge, and buying frozen are all good ways to prevent food waste. What you cannot eat, try your best to donate: to friends, coworkers, or someone in need. Finally, what you cannot save, compost. Freeze food scraps or other unused goods until a weekend compost opens at your local farmers market, or look into university initiatives on composting.
Last Call is seeking to change many of these grim statistics, but we cannot do it alone. It’s time we all say, once and for all, that food waste cannot be an acceptable part of our culture anymore. With the planet under increasing stress from climate change, millions left underfed and undernourished, and increasingly vast amounts of waste in landfills, it is time we take a stand. This is Last Call.