Project Planet: holiday food waste and its detrimental influence in climate change

The U.S. EPA says more than 70 billion pounds of food ends up[ in our landfills.
Published: Nov. 20, 2023 at 5:24 PM EST
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TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - According to the United States EPA, over 70 billion pounds of food ends up in our landfills. It is estimated that roughly 300 million of these pounds are produced during Thanksgiving.

The most prevalent material found in municipal landfills in the United States is food. With wasted food generating over fifty percent of methane emissions from solid waste municipal landfills, keeping food waste out of landfills this holiday season is a monumental step in reducing anthropogenic climate climate.

“We estimate that the greenhouse gases that come from food waste are actually the same as over 80 million cars worth of greenhouse gases,” Dana Gunders, the executive director of ReFED, a national nonprofit dedicated to ending food loss and waste by advancing data-driven solutions said. “Especially when you consider the fact that food is the number one product that is going into landfills today and landfills are the third largest source of methane, which is a powerful greenhouse gas.”

The steadily increasing population worldwide makes the idea of food security becomes more pressing. This means that moving forward if food loss waste continues at such a high rate, we will all eventually become more vulnerable to food scarcity.

It is important to start practicing food waste reduction habits now and during the holiday season. Such solutions can include preserving leftovers, donating unopened non-perishables to your local food bank, and composting.

“If there is a dinner of 15 people, and you’re going to have eight different sides, they each don’t need to make 15 servings, right?” Gunders said. “That’ll just be too much.”

Those interested in learning more about how they can reduce their influence on food loss waste can join the ReFED Food Waste Action Network, and if you would like more information on food waste in the United States, visit the ReFED website.