Food Waste Enlarges Your Carbon Footprint

There are so many eye-opening statistics regarding the amount of food Americans waste, but Green Blizzard doesn’t know which one to start with!

Estimates are that we throw away up to one-third of the food we buy every week!  In California, where roughly half of our nation’s fruits, vegetables, and nuts are produced, six million tons of food goods are dumped every year which is enough to fill the Los Angeles Laker’s arena 35 times!

Smarter food management can definitely reduce your carbon footprint and generate a surprisingly chunk of unexpected pocket change.  If you are spending $150-$200 a week on food, there’s the potential to save $50-$75. Wasted food enlargers everyone’s carbon footprint. Starting on the farm, in transit, at the market, in your home, and finally in the landfill.

Less Than Perfect – Consumer pickiness is partly to blame for the fact that farmers oftentimes ignore many fruits and vegetables when harvesting because they are misshapen or blemished.  Sometimes these less than perfect products are processed, other times its left on the ground or tree.

Charity – Fortunately, in California many volunteer organizations get down and dirty to “re-harvest” the abundant fields for extra foods and donate the fruits of their labor to food banks and soup kitchens.  In the same spirit, several farms and grocer’s donate leftover food that is still safe for consumption to food banks. The Del Monte Foods Co. donated more than two million pounds of bananas and cantaloupes to Ventura Food Share from their farms thus far this year. Also, Walmart has a food donation program that removes surplus food from the store’s shelves and donates it to needy families.  Many restaurants support local altruistic and sustainability-minded efforts because of good will and the desire to lower their waste management cost.

Landfill – When food is dumped into a landfill, which typically lacks the necessary light and air to compost properly and unfortunately produces the powerful greenhouse gas methane.   Add to that all the front end greenhouse gases emitted during the harvesting, processing, packaging, and transporting of these foods and its a pretty large carbon footprint, just associated with wasted food. A great source for food waste and other insights is the Daily Green website.

Be Thrifty – From an environmental standpoint,  the less you consume, the better.  Be stringent in the amount you buy, guard against over-buying, smartly use it all up and compost all “eligible” waste.  This site highlights several practical actions you can take to minimize food wasting, and ultimately your carbon footprint.

Less Is More – Ever consider giving your young kids one serving of dinner at a time if they cannot gauge how much they will eat?  Ever consider splitting a delectable desert with a date at a restaurant to make sure you guys absolutely clean it up? (I always do that with my favorite –  brownie sundaes) In addition, try to re-consider the way you look at food.  In today’s bountiful marketplace here in the U.S.  its difficult to comprehend that food can scarce, but remember your grandparents’ lessons and the news reports of devastation and crop failure around the globe.

My grandparents always related the hard times they endured growing up and how they made the most out of what food they had available.  I also recall that my former sociological professor at the University of Maryland shared his father’s motto with the class, which was, “If you don’t absolutely need it, don’t buy it.”

Be sure to check out our green lifestyle store Green Blizzard Store. Check out these related Green Blizzard articles: Seafood Watch, Are We Eating Fish Into Extinction, Carbon Impact of Meats, Local Produce, Sun Tea, AND Growing Basil.


About the author

Kenny Frankel

As graduate of the University of Maryland, Kenny has a major in Environmental Politics and Policy, so he's undoubtedly a guy well versed in environmental issues. Now, post college he is a practitioner of sustainable living and employed by solar installation company. We all will have a deeper green perspective after reading his articles because he brings a big picture insight to our everyday purchase decisions and even recycling.  As an early staff writer for Green Blizzard, Kenny covers environmental policy, big-agricultures impact on the environment, solar energy, recycling, and products made from recycled materials.