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How Does Food Waste Affect the Environment?

Food waste is one of the biggest and most damaging problems currently facing the environment. Not only is it damaging consumers due to the improper distribution of food, but it also has consequences for the environment. In the United States, a staggering 35% of food produced is thrown out. In Canada, it is estimated that the average citizen throws away close to 200 kg of food annually. This amount of waste does not take into account the food that is thrown out in the production level and from grocery stores, which is also a significant amount. The waste created by individuals and households is mostly tied to the inability of a person to buy the exact amount of food that they need, which leads to buying too much and the person not being able to eat it all. In grocery stores, most of the food that is being thrown out has gone bad or passed its best-before date, meaning it cannot be sold anymore. On the production level, food that has been contaminated or infested in some way is usually thrown out. In some instances, like disease breakouts in factories, hundreds of kilograms of food can be thrown out at one time. Food waste is damaging to the environment because most people do not dispose of it in the proper manner. The majority of food waste is not composted, meaning it goes to the landfill. There, it creates huge amounts of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas, which is damaging to the environment. In fact, the methane created by food waste is considered to be one of the most powerful greenhouse gases causing damage to our environment. Another thing to consider is all the resources that are wasted by food being thrown out. For example, by throwing away produce, all the water that was used to grow those produce was essentially wasted, meaning it was possibly taken away from others who needed it. The same can be said for the land, time, and energy it takes to produce food that is thrown out. By reducing food waste, society could make a huge impact on our environment as food waste is responsible for a big amount of the damage that is being done. Additionally, if food were able to be distributed more efficiently, food that is normally thrown out could be given to those who do not have access to enough food, therefore reducing food waste and food insecurity. Working to reduce food waste is one of the best and biggest steps we, as a society, can take in order to better our environment and help our communities.


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