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Reducing Food Waste Can Help Save Both the Planet and Your Money

The United States generates 35 million tons of food waste every year. Food waste happens when extra food is tossed out once it expires before being eaten. It also occurs during production when an oversupply of food is produced. When we throw away food, we are also wasting the resources that went into producing, packing and transporting the product.Tossing away uneaten food may not seem like a big deal, but the damage it causes to the planet and our wallets is.

When food waste ultimately ends up in landfills, it decomposes and produces a large amount of methane gas, a greenhouse gas more powerful than carbon dioxide that can linger in the atmosphere for 12 years. Food waste accounts for a third of all human-caused greenhouse gas emissions and accounts for 8% of annual greenhouse gas emissions. Besides contributing to climate change, food waste hurts our planet by wasting natural resources, degrading land, and disrupting biodiversity within ecosystems.

If the environmental effects aren’t enough, there is an immense cost to the economy and the individual. The U.S. spends over 172 billion dollars in water and 220 billion dollars in growing, transporting, and processing almost 70 million tons of food that ends up in landfills. Individual families waste about 30% of the food they buy. By throwing out food, the consumer is essentially throwing away money.

There are ways that societies and individuals can mitigate food waste. At the societal level, better harvesting, storage, processing, and distribution of food should be developed, so less is wasted during the production process. Individually, the first step is to stop impulse food purchases, such as buying in bulk or falling for sales. Sales appear great, but they convince consumers to buy more than they can realistically eat. Another tip is to invest in meal planning and leftovers. Meal planning prevents consumers from buying unnecessary foods, and leftovers are a great way to save money and prevent waste. One last tip is to remember food doesn’t suddenly go bad once it reaches its ‘best buy’ date. While the food’s quality may decline, if it’s stored properly, it can be okay to ingest past this date. Many foods are safe to eat a few days after their expiration dates. These efforts can reduce food waste and greenhouse gas emissions while saving consumers a few bucks.

It is crucial to reduce the amount of food waste to mitigate methane emissions released into the atmosphere and stop wasting natural resources; not to mention the money consumers would save. In the case of food waste, this is a situation where even one person can make a difference.


1) "How Does Food Waste Affect the Environment”

2) “Reducing food waste is good for the planet and your wallet. Here’s how to do it more effectively” CNN.

3) “The Environmental Impact of Food Waste”


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