Food Waste: Why You Should be Concerned and How to Stop It
Food waste has become a significant issue over the years. And although we can all agree that it is harmful, this growing problem worsens by the day. Governments worldwide are doing nothing to bring this matter to an end. And, worryingly, the public does not seem to care about food waste.
Stopping food waste is vital if we want to make our planet greener and safe. In this article, we will discuss food waste and its harmful impact on our planet. We will also look at ways to stop it.
Overview: What is Food Waste?
Simply put, food waste is one of the ways food reduces in mass or loses nutritional value. This usually occurs through food loss or food waste. Food waste is the major problem between the two. It usually occurs when edible food goes through the entire food supply chain but gets discarded before consumption.
On the other hand, food loss occurs before it gets to the final production stage. For example, it might occur during the post-harvest, processing, production, or distribution stages of the food supply chain.
In truth, food waste does not necessarily lead to a decrease in value. For instance, discarding a partially drunk mango juice or chunks of uneaten meat won’t decrease the value. However, it will result in food waste.
How Food is Wasted
Food waste in the US occurs at home, in restaurants, institutions, and in retail businesses. Retail businesses waste around 43 billion pounds of food every year. These figures are scary, considering restaurants waste approximately 22 to 33 billion pounds of food every year.
Sadly, households waste more than 26 billion pounds of food each year. This accounts for more than 40% of global food waste. Food waste in the US is common due to various factors like:
- Over preparing
- Food spoilage
- Poor planning
- Discarding food before the sell-by date
What are the Environmental and Economic Repercussions of Food Waste?
Food waste directly leads to environmental and economic challenges. It is one of the leading causes of water and air pollution. Moreover, food waste results in about 8% of global greenhouse gas emissions, leading to deforestation.
More than half of wasted food is buried in landfills. Here, the food rots away and releases harmful gasses such as methane. Methane is 25 times more dangerous than carbon dioxide, and the effects last for more than 100 years.
Food waste is also connected to water loss since farmers use more than 70% of water to produce food.
Farmers and manufacturers use energy to produce and preserve food throughout the food supply chain. When consumers waste food, that energy, which was used during production, distribution, preparation, and preservation, is also lost. Studies have revealed that household food waste amounts to enormous energy losses.
Finally, food waste in the US also creates irreversible economic repercussions. Recent data has shown that America loses more than $218 billion each year due to wasted food.
What You Can Do at Home to Reduce Food Waste
If you want to play your role and fight this ongoing problem, you should start at home. There is so much you can do to reduce food waste in your household. Amazingly, you don’t have to do so much to overcome this issue.
No matter how small, your impact will be vital if you are going to win this battle against food waste. Here are tips on how you can become part of the solution.
Use the Right Package
There are many packaging solutions out there. Unfortunately, most of these solutions are not viable. For instance, wrapping perishable foods such as cheese in typical packaging will result in wastage.
Fortunately, you can take advantage of a few viable options to store your food for long. The best packaging should be airtight and resealable. Airtight plastic containers will do.
Store Your Food Properly
Food storage is one of the leading causes of food waste. Sadly, many people do not know how to store food properly. Improper food storage creates various problems, including food waste and diseases.
It will also emit odor in your refrigerator, which might spoil other foods. Even if it doesn’t smell, you will have to wash your refrigerator. Check the unit’s manual to learn how to refrigerate appropriately.
Most of us always have food that we don’t need. In most cases, the food spoils after some time. There is no need to hold on to surplus food when you can give it out. Donate any extra food to reputable organizations and charities near you.
Compost Spoiled Food
Despite your best efforts, food might still get wasted due to various reasons such as power outages and unpredictable weather. Thankfully, you can use the spoiled food to create compost for your farm or garden. You can also sell the compost for money.
You will never waste food again if you constantly buy less. Train yourself to take fewer trips to the grocery store to avoid the temptations of buying more than you need.
Set a Weekly Menu
Creating a weekly menu for your family will go a long way towards stopping food wastage in your household. Take advantage of online tools and cookbooks to create accurate weekly menus.
Food waste will no longer pose irreversible environmental and economic challenges if we all play our part. The good news is that you don’t have to change your lifestyle to stop food waste in your household. Just use these tips to minimize food waste in the US and make the world a greener place.