By: Ella Garbarsky
Planet Earth has been around for millions of years, becoming the perfect place for billions of people, animals, and various other living organisms to thrive.
Within the past one hundred years, a new global phenomenon titled “global warming” or “climate change” has caught the attention of both scientists and everyday citizens across the globe.
Most people think of fossil fuels and carbon emissions as the number one contributors to global warming when another main contributor is not as well known. This contributes to food waste.
Across the nation, around 1.3 billion tons of food intended for human consumption are wasted or lost. That amount of food could feed 3 billion people, but instead, it has morphed into the third-highest emitter of greenhouse gas emissions. The amount of water used to produce this wasted food could supply up to 9 billion people with around 200 liters of water per day.
To put this all into perspective, if “food waste” were a country, it would be the third largest greenhouse gas emitter, standing only behind China and the United States.
Food waste is not the first thing that pops into most people’s minds when it comes to climate change. But with the long list of statistics that food waste poses, it is clear that it is a threat to the well-being of planet Earth and something people need to take more seriously.
It sounds silly to be so concerned about the amount of food one does or does not consume on a daily basis, but the reality is that the population on planet Earth is going to continue to grow. In the not-so-distant future, this planet will be called home by almost 9 billion people. This means that not only will fossil fuels and greenhouse gases increase, but so will the amount of food waste.
But how can regular, everyday citizens change these statistics? It’s actually quite easy.
The first big thing everyone can start doing is to be more inclusive when it comes to picking out fruit and vegetables at the grocery store. More than 50% of produce in the U.S. is thrown out because retailers believe it is “too ugly” to be sold to consumers. But in reality, fruits and vegetables are not getting ready to walk the red carpet or attend some big movie premiere. In reality, fruits and vegetables are bought to be chopped into pieces, stewed, stirred, broiled, cut, steamed, sauteed, and just about everything else. Who cares if one side of the squash has a small dent in it? Who cares if the apple doesn’t have a stem? Who cares if the pear has a small bruise on it? At the end of the day, the goal is for the food to be consumed, not prodded and poked until it looks picture-perfect.
Food waste is not as hard of an issue to solve as carbon emissions or greenhouse gasses. There are ways people can cut down on the amount of food they choose not to eat and throw away. This is an environmental issue that can be solved in the near future.
It may seem like a daunting task at first, but simply choosing fruits and vegetables that may not look “perfect” at the grocery store is already a giant step in the right direction.
The bottom line is to be more mindful of the amount of food you waste, even if it’s not intentional.
Be more mindful of climate change and how it is affecting the world around everyone in general. It is time to take action because, without it, the effects of climate change may become irreversible.
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