For many of us, tossing away food from plates, fridges, bags, and/or storage is a routine that we take for granted. When we discard food habitually, we rarely pause to consider the consequences of our actions.
According to a recent press lease by U.S. Department of Agriculture:
– About 133 billion pounds of food are wasted in the U.S. every year. To put this in perspective, a family of four each year throw away more than two million calories of food, worth about $1,500.
– Food waste is the single largest component of disposed U.S. municipal solid waste.
– When food is disposed in a landfill, it rots and becomes a significant source of methane – a potent greenhouse gas with 21 times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide. Landfills are the third largest source of methane in the United States.
As we can see from the above facts, throwing away food is an issue much bigger than a personal habit. When we routinely discard food, we would be contributing to a problem that has severe economic and environmental consequences. Economically, food loss means unnecessary deprivation of productivity and depletion of resources. Environmentally, food waste causes landfill overload, green house emissions, and climate change. If we continue our unmindful routine, we would exacerbate the problem and eventually, hurt ourselves.
As busy teenagers, how can we do our part to reduce unnecessary food waste?
– When buying lunch from a school cafeteria, think about whether you’ll eat what you are buying and when you’ll eat, and buy accordingly.
– When eating at home, think about how big your appetite is and load your plate accordingly.
– When taking your own lunch to school, plan your lunch food based on your activities on that day and pack accordingly.
– For those of us who cook, plan meals and recipes ahead of time and use a shopping list.
– Save – and actually eat – leftovers.
– Donate canned food to food banks.
Next time when you are about to habitually dispose of food you are no longer interested in eating, pause and ask: What can I do to reduce wasting food?
If we all do the same, we can make a difference.
Reducing food waste starts from you, and from now!