Food waste is a huge problem that not many people are aware of. The Food and Drug Administration places food as the largest category of landfill material in the United States. In fact, it is estimated that America wastes 30 to 40 percent of the country’s food supply each year. Food waste affects not just individuals but the entire ecosystem. It doesn’t just represent wasted money; it also contributes to climate change and deforestation.
Addressing this problem requires understanding its pervasive effect on our environment. Our individual food choices and how we prepare our meals make a collective dent in our world. Fortunately, there are ways we can significantly reduce our impact on the environment through the way we eat. Today, we’ll discuss healthy eating as the way forward to reducing food waste.
How does food waste impact the environment?
It contributes to climate change
Methane is a potent greenhouse gas that, when released, lingers in the atmosphere for more than a decade. It contributes to 20% of the global greenhouse gas responsible for climate change. It is 25 times stronger than carbon dioxide. Methane emissions are produced from landfills, agriculture, and factory farming. In our blog post entitled “Environmental Problems Caused by Cows”, we highlighted how animal agriculture contributes to dangerous methane levels in the atmosphere. In the same vein, excessive consumption and waste of meat and dairy maintains and even increases the demand for these products and continuously harms the environment. Food waste in landfills likewise releases astonishing levels of methane. Our best and swiftest chance at slowing climate change is making immediate reductions in methane emissions.
It wastes natural resources
Agricultural techniques such as monocropping and land conversion cause massive deforestation and degrade natural land. Irresponsibly wasting food products leads to the conversion of arable land (land that can grow crops), into hectares of landfills. Because of the increasing demand for meat, these lands are even being used as pastures for animals to graze. To cope with the need for food production, millions of square feet of forests are being converted into industrial or agricultural lots. By doing so, the natural land gets poisoned with chemicals and by-products that make growing crops in the future nearly impossible. The food waste our communities generate causes food chain disruptions and loss of habitats for animals.
It harms biodiversity
Some species are already being driven to extinction due to the massive loss of natural habitats. Hunting and overfishing have caused the decimation of marine and land ecosystems. Meanwhile, unsustainable livestock production has led to new strains of illnesses on animals. Despite the massive demand for animal products, huge supermarket chains have been discarding products because of failure to meet quality standards. These wasteful industry and consumer behaviors have led to severe ecosystem disruptions. Overexploitation of our biodiversity threatens much of the world’s food security and harms the environment in the process.
How do healthy eating habits help reduce food waste?
In developed countries, food waste and obesity are significant problems. Both are correlated because they are caused by an overabundance of food. Limiting food waste can also promote healthy nutrition by obtaining less food and focusing on nutrition and value. In the case of WeightWatchers’ weight loss plans for men, food is portioned based on goals and budgets. This means that little to nothing goes to waste from your weekly groceries. Through science-backed research that forms the backbone of their digital tools, the plan gives you a custom list of foods within your budget and guides you towards choices that will help you reach your nutrition goals. Their program also enables you to track your weight, food, and activity levels to stay on top of your progress.
Similarly, Snap Kitchen’s meal delivery service offers freshly prepared meals sent to your doorstep each week and saves you time and money on food preparation and take-out. By using this service ultimately reduces the potential of food waste because the meals are already pre-portioned based on your preferences. The service likewise allows you to skip certain days of the week when you plan to eat out or prepare your meal. Modern tools and services like these help you focus on a healthy lifestyle and avoid consuming more than you need.
Knowing how food waste harms the environment can help you make conscious and intentional choices in how you consume food. Using emerging technologies and services, you can reduce your environmental impact and create positive changes to conserve the earth’s resources.