- Clara McCool
Weigh the Waste
On November 8th, Green Dining held a Weigh the Waste event at O'Hill, where we took people's plates as they were leaving to measure the amount of leftover food. In the span of just two hours, 165 pounds of food was wasted. That comes out to 7.4 ounces of food waste per person. Based on the fact that the average meal weighs about 1.2 pounds, the total meals wasted was about 140.
The purpose of the Weigh the Waste event was to increase people's awareness of how much food they waste, and to make them think a little more about how much food they get versus how much they'll actually eat. It's clear to most people that food waste isn't great, but the harmful effects are not always obvious. Here are 4 ways food waste is hurting our environment:
1. Food waste in landfills increases the production of methane. A greenhouse gas, methane is released once the food begins to rot and is 25 times more harmful to the environment than CO2.(1) The carbon footprint of food waste each year is equal to 3.3 billion tons of greenhouse gas emissions.(2) If we cut down on food waste, we can cut down on the production of methane gas and slow down global warming.
2. Wasting food also wastes the water that went into producing it. Food production requires a huge amount of water: about 70% of freshwater in the world is used for agriculture.(1) Throwing away just 1 kilogram of beef is equivalent to wasting 50,000 liters of water, and one glass of milk is the same as wasting 1,000 liters.(2)
3. Throwing away tons of food each year also wastes other resources such as the land and oil that were used during production. Millions of gallons of gas are wasted each year in producing food that is thrown away. About 1/3 of the total agricultural land area in the world is used to grow food that goes uneaten.(2)
4. Food waste also has a harmful effect on biodiversity. In the need to produce so much food, more and more areas are subject to deforestation. Taking wild areas and turning them into land for agriculture disrupts the ecosystem, and can destroy natural flora and fauna that grows in the area. Despite the fact that we waste a large portion of the food we produce, there is an always increasing demand for meat products. Because of this, more and more land is being used for livestock, which has destroyed the natural habitat for certain animals.
So take what you want, but eat what you take. And you can always go back for seconds!