By Grant Stokoe
Food waste is a huge problem that affects many levels. Consumers tend to waste money on food they never eat, and some areas go hungry because they either do not have access to food or cannot afford it. Consequently, this wasted food ends up in landfills.
In landfills, food waste greatly contributes to greenhouse gas emissions. Roughly one third of our global food goes to waste, and this accounts for 8-10% of global emissions (“How food waste is a huge contributor to climate change”). Clearly, we are aware of the amount of food we waste, so there must be methods people can adopt to reduce their own waste and contribute to lowering landfill emissions.
Most food that goes unused ends up in landfills, but there is a difference between how it gets there. Food waste is the term used to describe consumers not using the food they purchase, while food loss is the food that is lost during harvest by the producers (“15 quick tips for reducing food waste and becoming a Food Hero”). We tend to hear more about food waste, but food loss is more dependent on the producers who determine when to plant seeds and when to harvest. Also, this is heavily influenced by weather and types of growing seasons.
Moreover, food loss is more difficult to prevent than food waste. There are a wide variety of practices that consumers can do to prevent the amount of food we lose.
In my opinion, the two easiest ways to reduce your food waste is to only buy the food you need and to make use of leftovers (“15 quick tips for reducing food waste and becoming a Food Hero”). Weekly meal planning and shopping with a list is a great way to know you are only buying the food you need. Grocery stores are designed to make us buy more food than we need; we tend to throw out extra food because those ‘buy 2, get 1 free’ deals may seem great, but you might only need 1!
Also, using leftovers is a great way to prevent food waste. If we have lots of food leftover from a meal, it makes logical sense to store the food properly and eat it again at a later date. In the long run, we save money by not having to buy more food, we save time by not having to cook an entirely new meal, and we prevent additional food from entering landfills!
For additional tips on preventing food waste, I recommend you visit the website “15 quick tips for reducing food waste and becoming a Food Hero” with the link posted in the sources. There are great tips that help the consumer save money and food while also helping the environment.
- “How food waste is a huge contributor to climate change” (https://www.theguardian.com/news/2021/sep/04/how-food-waste-is-huge-contributor-to-climate-change)
- “15 quick tips for reducing food waste and becoming a Food Hero” https://www.fao.org/fao-stories/article/en/c/1309609/