It is estimated that forty percent of all the food produced in the U.S. is wasted. If that 40 percent were a country, it would be the third-largest emitter of greenhouse gases behind the United States and China. If it were brought down to zero, as much as 11 percent of greenhouse gas emissions could be eliminated.
The best way to prevent waste may be to stop surpluses from occurring in the first place, but that begins when you scrape less off your plate or from your refrigerator. We could reduce the deforestation involved in providing acreage for animals to graze and crops to grow to feed those animals. We could reduce the energy needed to heat, cool, water and care for them, not to mention the labor, the transport and the packaging.
Food waste now accounts for more than one quarter of the total freshwater consumption and approximately 300 million barrels of oil per year.
In addition, as we bring food waste to rot in landfills, it is producing substantial quantities of methane – a gas with 25 fold more potent global warming potential than CO2.
This is another area in which we can make an impact. We can plan more carefully before we buy.