Food waste is a global problem, and it’s one of the main reasons I invented The Swag. Did you know that fruits and vegetables are wasted in the United States more than grain products, seafood, meat, and milk?
If you’re like me, then this kind of information can be really upsetting and frustrating! You know food waste is bad, and throwing away any food is something you want to avoid.
I believe that we’re all naturally food savers, not food wasters! It really only takes small changes in each of our lives to save more food. However, until more people understand how those small changes can add up to make a better world, we need to keep talking about the problem. Together, we can make a difference and empower others to make the small changes that can have a huge impact on the food waste problem!
Why We Need to Reduce Food Waste
A 2012 report from the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) revealed a long list of statistics that show just how big the food waste problem is in America, and some of the statistics are likely to shock you like they shocked me.
Many of these statistics are included in the infographic at the end of this article, which I urge you to share across your social media profiles to draw attention to the food waste epidemic. To give you an idea of just how big the problem is, take a look at 10 of the most shocking statistics:
- Americans throw away $165 billion of food each year.
- 40% of food is wasted in the United States every year.
- 35 million tons of food are wasted in the United States each year.
- The average American household throws away $2,200 of food each year.
- The average American throws away 300 lbs. of food per year.
- More than 20 lbs. of food is wasted per person every month in the United States.
- 20% of food that the average American buys is never eaten.
- 90% of food is thrown away too soon.
- Food waste in American has grown by 204% since 1960 and 50% since 1990.
- Reducing food waste by just 15% would be enough to feed more than 25 million Americans every year.
Food Waste has Far Reaching Effects
Food waste affects more than you might think. The NRDC explains, “Getting food to our tables eats up 10% of the total U.S. energy budget, uses 50% of U.S. land, and swallows 80% of freshwater consumed in the United States.” When 135 million tons of food is wasted in America every year, 25% of all fresh water and huge amounts of energy and land are also being wasted. In addition, huge amounts of chemicals are being used to produce that food unnecessarily.
But that’s not all. Most wasted food ends up in landfills where the NRDC says organic matter accounts for 16% of U.S. methane emissions. Furthermore, all of that wasted food could feed many of the 46.5 million Americans (that’s one in seven Americans) who use food banks.
Why Food Waste is so Prevalent
Americans waste 10 times as much food as people who live in Southeast Asia. Part of the food waste problem in the United States and many other countries around the world is a lack of education. Many people simply don’t understand the far-reaching effects of food waste, and they don’t fully comprehend the true value of food.
Others don’t understand food labels and dispose of food too soon. Another cause is a lack of meal planning and shopping lists that provide more accurate estimates of the food a person actually needs to buy. Unnecessary impulse and bulk purchases also add to the food waste problem.
The NRDC cites over-preparation as another contributing factor to excessive food waste in America. We live in a time when large portions have become the norm, but this can lead to uneaten leftovers that end up being uneaten and thrown away.
Finally, the NRDC found that spoilage contributes to food waste significantly. The report explains, “Food spoils in homes due to improper or suboptimal storage, poor visibility in refrigerators, partially used ingredients, and misjudged food needs.” I believe The Swag can provide a solution to the spoilage problem and play an important role in reducing food waste.
Of course, individuals and households aren’t the only contributors to food waste. The entire food supply chain from farm to fork is filled with opportunities to reduce food waste. With the help of organizations like SaveTheFood, we can all make a difference!
Food Waste in the United States Infographic
Here’s the infographic I promised you! Again, please share it and this article with your friends, families, and colleagues, so more people get a better understanding of just how big the food waste problem is.