Food Waste Contributes to Climate Change. The Damage Starts Here.


A green food waster.  What an oxymoron. I am not proud of  what I am going to confess.  As green as I think I have become, my family and I are food wasters. Our habits are hurting the Earth.  We are contributing to Climate Change since food waste  increases methane, a greenhouse gas.

Does this Sound Like Your Family?

Every couple of months I can’t stand the clutter or dirty drawers in my house.  A year ago, I challenged Green Talk readers to clean up the clutter in their own house as I tackled my overcrowded pantry.  What I found last year was a ton of  empty boxes just left in the pantry.  My kids can’t throw out recycle an empty box to save their lives.

Another year went by and lo and behold the pantry reverted back to its sinister overcrowded, messy, can’t find anything self.  It is odd that a pantry would take on the same personality of my children.

No matter how I try,  duplicates triplicates of the same product show up.  I swear something biological has been injected into my pantry causing duplicates and triplicates of the product to show up.  Cloning at its best.  Either that, a zealous husband who thinks we need a particular item or something was on “Great” sale.

To try and save money, how many of you buy in bulk?  Especially if you have a large family?  With currently three sets of lunches to be made each day, we are definitely part of the bulk buying sect.   However, bulk buying has always back fires on us.  Why?  Here the usual senario.

Kids’ Food Love/Hate Relationship Leads to Waste

My kids will adore a particular product.  Can’t live without it. Best next thing to slice bread. I call this phase, the new food love/addiction.  Evidently, the infatuation wears off, and they drop that favorite food as fast as you can say boo.  The food product just sits miserable in the pantry wondering what it did to deserve this treatment.  I swear I hear whimpers from all the food that has been loved once and now forgotten.

I keep warning my husband to not to give into my boys’ loves of the week.  Buy one package, I tell him.  Don’t get buying happy that you found something they like.  They will always disappoint you, I further warn.  And boom, a few weeks later, they are ready to move on without any remorse.  Please, Please tell me they won’t be like this with women.

PS, so there I was this weekend.  Snarling under my breath,  and throwing  away so many stale products.  So much that it filled a VERY Large bowl.  It was sickening.  The waste.

Food Waste and Increased Levels of Methane Gas

So, what effect is my food wasting habits doing to the Earth besides wasting my hard earn cash?

The EPA states,

“Americans throw away more than 25 percent of the food we prepare, about 96 billion pounds of food waste each year according to the US Department of Agriculture’s Estimating and Addressing America’s Food Losses PDF) (11 pp, 101K, about PDF). Food waste includes uneaten food and food preparation scraps from residences or households, commercial establishments like restaurants, grocery stores, and cafeterias.Waste Not, Want Not: Feeding the Hungry and Reducing Solid Waste Through Food Recovery (PDF)59 pp, 1.5MB, about PDF), a joint publication of EPA and USDA, states the nation spends about one billion dollars a year to dispose of food waste.”

The sad part was that not only was this food waste a waste of money, it could have gone straight to a landfill, which would produce methane gas until it decomposed.  Thank goodness for my eager composter which just opens its mouth and say “feed me.”

What about methane gas, you ask.  Methane gas is one of the serious culprits causing global warming .  How come you don’t know this?  Methane does not have a PR agent like carbon dioxide.   (You know, the old carbon footprint.)   Methane gas  just doesn’t get the same billing that its famous cousin, Carbon Dioxide gets.

Food Waste

The EPA futher states:

“The amount of food waste generated in the US is huge. It is the third largest waste stream after paper and yard waste. In 2008, about 12.7 percent of the total municipal solid waste (MSW) generated in America was food scraps. Less than three percent of that 32 million tons was recovered and recycled. The rest – 31 million tons – was thrown away into landfills or incinerators.

The decomposition of food and other organic waste materials under anaerobic (without oxygen) conditions in landfills produces methane, a greenhouse gas (GHG) 21 times more potent than carbon dioxide. Landfills are the largest human-related source of methane in the United States, accounting for 34 percent of all methane emissions.”

Does this excuse me even though I compost? Think of all the packaging that I threw away in addition to all the food waste?  If you want to drum me out of the G-club, I understand.

Lessons Learned on How to Curb Food Waste

Lesson learned? Only buy what you intend to eat. Ask yourself when you impulsively grab something because it is on sale or you think you might use it, will I use this much or will it sit in my pantry until it expires? I know when I am in a big box store everything looks so alluring.    Just remember this mantra,

Saving green that ends up in a landfill or your composter isn’t being green at all.

Join the Conversation:

  • Does my household sound like yours?  Do you have a avid buyer?  A fickle eater? A compulsive cleaner?
  • How have you stopped the food waste madness at your house? What is your secret?
  • Maybe it is not food but personal care products or anything else?  What do you struggle with that you are constantly purging?


Tired and maybe not so green.

This post is being submitted as part of the Green Moms Carnival about Climate Change being hosted by Diane at The Big Green Purse.

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    Methane is one carbon atom with four hydrogen atoms, so it could still be considered to fall under the carbon umbrella on some level. Although I agree it doesn’t get the PR of carbon dioxide. I think part of that is also because methane’s production is generally passive on our part – through decomposition or bovine flatulence. It’s not as directly related to observable human actions.

    That said, I am guilty of wasting food, too. My sins tend to be more along the lines of not eating leftovers, and lettuce. Somehow we never finish our lettuce on time. But it doesn’t matter, really, because I’m still consuming more than I need to and wasting money to boot.
    .-= Amber´s last blog ..Blogging Your Dreams =-.

  2. 2

    Guanci says

    I have a method that works to save both food and money. It is called no job and a tight budget. My food budget with 2 kids ( I am divorced) is small. We buy less and waste less. Fresh fruit and veggies are important to us so we budget for them. The kids used to get a whole apple in the lunch and eat half- now they get a half of one. We juice veggies and fruit that are getting older and make apple sauce and freeze it all.
    We are much more, as a team, creative with left overs. I do have the time to be creative as, although I am job hunting, I am a stay at homer. Crock pot soups are big here as it takes little meat and uses veggies and rice. Smoothies are popular.
    We also feed some neighbors when we have too much. Yes we still have waste but a great deal less. When you think of all waste as money it really really helps one cut back.

    • 3

      Green Talk says

      Guanci, what are some of your favorite leftover meals that you transform from the original meals? I love your 1/2 apple idea as well as your apple sauce idea! Great suggestions. Good luck with your job search. Anna


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