Did you know that more than $161 billion worth of food is being tossed away in the U.S. today? According to the US Department of Agriculture, up to 40% of the food in the country is wasted. Days when chicken leftovers where being transformed into chicken sandwiches for breakfast the next day are far gone. Today, food waste is the third biggest emitter of carbon dioxide and greenhouse gases. In fact, food is wasted at all levels from production to harvesting to distribution. Sadly, as food waste continues to rise, it’s estimated that over 12 percent of US households experience food insecurity forcing them to go to bed hungry multiple times. Here are the ways in which food waste is destroying the planet.
The Production of Methane
When food is thrown away, it begins to decompose or rot leading to the production of harmful gases. At this stage, methane gas is in large volumes in the landfills. Methane gas is classified as a greenhouse gas that affects climate and temperature which include global warming. Global warming in the near further is estimated to cause world fire, water calamities, and drought.
This will negatively affect the entire world to a greater extent. We should all take a step in preventing food waste to avoid these effects altogether. The drastic climate change we are experiencing is due to the food thrown into the landfills. Methane can be very dangerous in the long run because:
• Methane traps heat in the atmosphere more than carbon dioxide making it 25 times more effective
• Methane has the highest percentage of greenhouse gas emission.
Water is crucial for the survival of humanity, animals and most important crops. Agricultural activities require water for the crop to nourish whether is irrigation, pouring, spraying or rain. By throwing away tons of food, you waste gallons of water used to plant and sustain the plants.
Even animal and fruit production require water. Animals drink a lot of water for better meat and milk production. By throwing away one kilogram of meat you’re wasting 50,000 liters of water that was used to produce it.
Around 1.4 billion hectares of land, which is about one-third of the world is used in the production of food that is wasted. Moreover, people throw waste food on the same land being used for cultivation. This reduces the size of agricultural land and also becomes a breeding site for mice, rodents, and flies. This waste food degrades the land around that garbage area making it less productive.
Marine Life is Destroyed
After disposal of food waste, it ends up in the sewage and finally in the rivers or seas. Any marine life that comes into contact with this waste gets affected negatively. Additionally, the waste leads to the formation of algal which contaminates and suffocates marine life such as coral and fish.
Despite many attempts to stop people from disposing foodstuff near water bodies, they are still doing it even more. Things like fishing lines, cigarette butts, plastic bottles, and styrofoam if consumed by marine animals can harm them.
Human beings form part of the environment and as a result, they too can be affected by their own food waste disposal. Imagine how you will be affected by inhaling methane gas from the waste you disposed of. Children and anyone else who lives near the garbage site is at risk of contaminating diseases such as cholera.
Those gases emitted poses risks of cancer, respiratory diseases, and visibility problems. Plus, damaging the land we use for cultivation puts us in danger of experiencing food crisis.
You should manage your fridge well to avoid food waste. Learn to eat what you have first and avoid overstocking food just because you have seen a new recipe only to end up throwing away half of the food. However, this doesn’t mean you can’t try new recipes. You can try new food one at a time and remember to refrigerate your perishable items.
Also, if you’re going to the grocery, have an inventory to avoid buying food items you already have. If you can’t resist buying items in bulk, you can share them with someone to avoid wastage. Furthermore, you can take the extra food to the homeless and children shelters rather than throwing away.
However, if you’re caught up in a situation where it’s a must you throw away expired foodstuff, you can instead make compost. This compost can be used as fertilizer for your small greenhouse or you can sell it to farmers.
All images by Pixabay