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Cut Food Waste
About a third of all food grown never gets eaten, which is quite startling when you consider that, every year, over 700 million people globally face hunger.
At first you might think, how bad can food waste be? Doesn’t it just decompose? But producing, packaging and transporting food uses land, water, and energy, releasing carbon every step of the way. Not to mention the powerful gases it emits if it ends up in a landfill.
In fact, if food waste were a country, it would be the third highest emitter of greenhouse gases in the world, after the US and China. Nearly one-quarter of carbon pollution related to food come from food that is never eaten.
Cut down on food waste in your own home by making sure you only buy what you need, eat the food you have and compost anything left. You’ll save money, effort, and reduce carbon pollution.
Food waste is easy to cut using quick tips like these.
Keep a shopping list to only buy what you need. Remember, bulk buying only saves money if you’re sure you’ll eat it all.
Keep leftovers as an easy snack or meal for later. Learn about how best to store food to keep it fresh and edible. Check what the different date labels really mean.
Worried you’ve ended up with more food than you can eat? Look up convenient local donation options with a quick online search, or find ways to freeze, pickle or ferment it.
For any food waste you can’t eliminate, try to compost it instead of throwing it away. You could try composting at home to create free high-quality soil for your plants, or sign up for a local compost collection. Look into what is available in your town or city: in some areas, the local sanitation department may offer curbside composting; in others, private community services may be available. If there is no collection available near you, consider asking your local government about it.
Cutting food waste means you’re not throwing your money away on food you don’t eat. Using what’s already in your home is a good way to get creative and learn new, tasty recipes.
Most waste ends up in a landfill and, in high-income countries, food waste makes up 32 percent of that waste. Keeping food out of the trash helps eliminate methane emissions - a powerful greenhouse gas that is 28 times more potent than CO2 in causing global warming - and keeps landfills from overflowing.
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15 quick tips for reducing food waste and becoming a food hero DP
Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO)
An estimated 720-811 million people in the world faced hunger in 2020.
The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2021
Food Labels - Best before, use by and sell by dates explained
European Food Information Council (EUFIC)
If food wastage were a country, it would be the third largest emitting country in the world.
Food Waste Footprint & Climate Change, FAO
Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas with a 100-year global warming potential 28 times that of CO2.
IPCC Fifth Assessment Report 100-year reference case
Roughly one-third of the edible parts of food produced for human consumption, gets lost or wasted globally, which is about 1.3 billion ton per year
Global Food Losses and Food Waste, FAO
Nearly one-quarter of emissions related to food come from food that is never eaten.
Reducing food’s environmental impacts through producers and consumers, Poore and Nemecek (2018)
In high-income countries, food waste makes up 32 percent of total waste. Globally, most waste is currently dumped or disposed of in some form of a landfill. Some 37 percent of waste is disposed of in some form of a landfill.
Impact metric calculations
To determine the carbon emission reduction estimates related to cutting food waste through upstream food reduction (through buying less, loving leftovers, etc.) and composting, the following calculations were performed: DP
Upstream Food Reduction Efforts: (# of people in household) x (country-specific kg food waste/person) x (committed percentage of food waste reduced) x (1.7 kg CO2e/kg food) = kg CO2e / household / month
Composting: (# of people in household) x (country-specific kg food waste/person) x (country-specific average percentage of food waste likely diverted to landfill) x (percentage of food waste not reduced) x [(0.56 kg CO2e/kg landfilled food waste) - (0.16 kg CO2e/kg composted food waste) = kg CO2e / household / month
Total: Upstream Food Reduction Efforts + Composting = kg CO2e / household / month
For detailed calculations, references and assumptions, please see our Methodology.