This article is part of a four-part series on buying, storing, preserving and composting foods to prevent waste
There is no ‘away’ to throw things. When food ends up in landfills it decomposes anaerobically which releases methane, a greenhouse gas 25x more effective at trapping heat than carbon dioxide. Since Americans throw away around 150,000 tons of food every day, the effect on climate change is significant. Even when we do all we can to reduce food waste by buying only what we need, storing and preserving foods properly, we still end up with inedible scraps or things that have gone off. Here are some basics on composting to divert waste from the landfill.
In the United States, we waste 40% of food produced, and an alarming 90% of that goes to the landfill, where it emits methane gas which is a mere 23 times more powerful than carbon dioxide. If that statistic doesn’t do anything for you, then how about that the average American spends about $1,500 a year on food they are just going to throw away.
The amount of food wasted in our nation is stunning.
“In the United States, 31 percent — or 133 billion pounds — of the 430 billion pounds of the available food supply at the retail and consumer levels in 2010 went uneaten,” according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
From the point of view of a food business, this statistic erodes already slim profit margins. The USDA goes on to say, “the estimated value of this food loss (in 2010) was $161.6 billion using retail prices.” To bring that down to earth for us, here’s a quote from ‘80’s television icon Mr. T, “That ain’t no chump change!”
By Bill Palladino
I like this one. My family tries very, very, hard to narrow our waste stream. It’s evident every week on our street. Our neighborhood’s garbage service uses bright red bags, and in the snow we’ve had they stand out. Our home only has a red bag in front of it once a month or less often. On the other hand, our recycling is always piled much higher than the neighbor’s. We even have two bins to everyone else’s single one.