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If you want to stop climate change, you’ve got to stop wasting food!

Guest Post By Fiona Brodie

Project Drawdown, a nonprofit which evaluates and ranks solutions for addressing the changing climate, makes this crystal clear. The organization recently stated: If we are to reach Drawdown, or “the point in the future when levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere stop climbing and start to steadily decline,” and if we’re to do this by the year 2050 without exceeding a 2℃ increase in our global temperature, then food waste reduction is the climate change solution that, if scaled up, would have the largest emissions impact globally.

Unconvinced or eager to learn more? Keep reading to find out how Project Drawdown came to this conclusion and what you can do to stop wasting food today.

A Banana in the Trash is Way More Than a Banana in the Trash

It might be hard to believe that Food Waste Reduction ranks as the #1 solution for fighting climate change. On Project Drawdown’s table of solutions, reduced Food Waste ranks just above Health and Education and far above Concentrated Solar Power, Methane Digesters, and Efficient Aviation, solutions that sound as though they could have a larger impact.


When we recognize that a banana in the trash is way more than a banana in the trash, it becomes easier to see why reducing food waste could have a significant impact on climate change reduction.

The food waste problem is immense! ⅓ of the food that we produce globally is wasted. This alone is a lot of waste. But, when food is tossed, other valuable resources like water, energy, and land, are also wasted, and with each of these losses comes the production of greenhouse gasses, which are cooking Mother Earth.

The Good News

Today’s food waste reality may appear bleak, but we are not without hope. In fact, there’s some good news to Reduced Food Waste being ranked at #1 on the climate change solutions chart.

Many of the solutions listed on the chart may be out of your direct control. Electric Vehicles, for example, can only be purchased by those who can afford them, and Temperate Forest Restoration can only be tackled by policy-makers and experts in the field. Everyone, however, buys food, wastes food, and thus can reduce the amount of food that they throw away. 

Project Drawdown makes clear that this is especially true for people living in developed countries, as most of our food waste takes place at the retailer and consumer levels. Much of our food waste results from retailers opting out of selling cosmetically imperfect produce and from individuals buying more than they can use, or tossing expired products – practices that need changing.

Start Wasting Less Today

There are numerous actions that you can take to reduce the amount of food that you waste. To get yourself started, take a look at the list below:

1) Don’t pay too much attention to expiration dates. Trust your eyes and your nose to tell you when something’s gone bad. 

2) Meal plan. If you shop with a plan, you’re less likely to over-buy at the supermarket.

3) Freeze your food. If you’ve got food that’s about to go bad, make soups and freeze them. This will give your food a longer life.

4) Eat Upcycled Food. Many companies are using delicious and nutritious food that would otherwise be tossed to offer a wide range of healthy products.

Let’s Get to Work

The work that Project Drawdown has done to evaluate and rank climate change solutions has brought to light the importance of food waste reduction. What actions will you be taking to reduce the amount of food that you waste? Let us know in the comments below.

 

Fiona Brodie makes environmental science accessible to a wide audience. She has a master’s degree in Urban Environmental Management from Wageningen University in the Netherlands and a bachelor’s degree in Urban Studies from UC Berkeley. She loves traveling and learning about sustainability projects around the world. To reach her, email fionaabrodie@gmail.com.

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