Today, an estimated one-third of all the food produced in the world goes to waste. That’s equal to about 1.3 billion tons of fruits, vegetables, meat, dairy, seafood, and grains that either never leave the farm, get lost or spoiled during distribution, or are thrown away in hotels, grocery stores, restaurants, schools, or home kitchens. It could be enough calories to feed every undernourished person on the planet.
But wasted food isn't just a social or humanitarian concern—it's an environmental one. When we waste food, we also waste all the energy and water it takes to grow, harvest, transport, and package it. And if food goes to the landfill and rots, it produces methane—a greenhouse gas even more potent than carbon dioxide. About 11% of all the greenhouse gas emissions that come from the food system could be reduced if we stop wasting food. In the US alone, the production of lost or wasted food generates the equivalent of 37 million cars’ worth of greenhouse gas emissions.
As the world’s population continues to grow, our challenge should not be how to grow more food, but to feed more people while wasting less of what we already produce. Thankfully, there are plenty of actions we can take at the consumer level to make a significant difference. From delivering leftovers to those in need to freezing food, shopping smarter, and composting to keep inedible scraps out of landfills, we can all take small steps to curb our emissions.
Here are a few tips to help you get started: