One-third of all food that is produced for our consumption in the U.S. ends up rotting in landfills, resulting in 16 percent of our nation’s methane emissions. All the while, 49 million Americans don’t have access to enough food. In economic terms, a recent report from ReFED estimates that the United States spends over $218 billion—1.3 percent of GDP—growing, processing, transporting, and disposing of food that is never eaten. The impact on the planet is equally profound. In the U.S., getting food from the farm to our tables eats up 10 percent of the total energy budget, uses 50 percent of the land, and accounts for 80 percent of all freshwater consumed.
Food waste is a global issue, but it is also deeply personal. Most food waste occurs before it even hits our plate. It happens at lunchtime when you throw out the homemade salad that is less appealing once your team orders pizza. It happens in cafeterias, where a surplus of meals don’t always have a place to go at the end of the night. It happens in the kitchen during the cooking process, when we throw out the stems of our broccoli.
Now is the time to question what we see as normal practices when it comes to food procurement, preparation, and consumption. Businesses and their employees are in a prime position to change the tide. Companies can spread awareness to their employees about food waste, both at home and at the office, and give them tools and advice as to how to reduce their own waste and engage in food waste reduction practices.