Food Waste Highlighted by Project Clean Plate

BY: CAROLINE QUIRK Contributing Writer

Up to 40% of the food in the United States is never eaten, yet one in eight Americans struggle to put food on the table each night. This is why the Sustainability Initiative puts on Project Clean Plate every semester.

Food waste is a huge problem in the world but particularly in US. Every single scrap of food that was thrown away because it was past expiration date or because someone forgot about it and it rotted in the refrigerator, ends up in a landfill.

Ever wonder what happens to all the leftover produce in supermarkets that go unsold? Or what happens with the leftovers at your favorite restaurant? You guessed it; it goes to a landfill.

The problem of food waste comes with many costs. Food waste has endless costs to the environment, economy, and health of not only Americans, but everyone, everywhere.

Our planet is suffering because of the actions, or lack of action, of humans. A report from the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization estimated that the carbon footprint of food waste accounted for 7% of all global emissions.

Not only does food waste account for 7% of all global emissions, more than 20% of all greenhouse gas emissions is caused by agricultural activities. To then, waste so much of that food is not only completely unnecessary, but a large contributor to climate change.

Worst yet, is all the resources that are being wasted, 21% of all fresh water, 18% of cropland and 19% of fertilizer. This is not only bad for the environment, but the economy as well.

Businesses, farms and consumers spend $218 billion, growing processing and disposing of food that was never eaten. Each year, businesses loss $74 billion on food waste.

The environment and the economy are not the only things being negatively impacted by food waste. Humans are suffering without food, and others are fighting obesity due to their eating habits. According to The National Resource Defense Council, if we were able to rescue just 15% of the food we waste, we’d save enough to feed 25 million Americans each year.

We as a society have more control over this problem than it seems. Americans especially, have bigger eyes than they do stomach. The average American fast food meal is 4 times larger than it was in the 1950’s.

Project Clean Plate is an initiative to create awareness of food waste in the college community. With all you can eat dining, it’s easy to get carried away and grab too much food. Project Clean Plate was made to show students how much food they are actually wasting.

The Green Navigators will be hosting Clean Plate from February 3 to the 6 in the res dining hall, all day. Come say hi, start a conversation with us about sustainability, we look forward to seeing some empty plates!

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