Sharma: The Invisible Food Waste Problem

World Wildlife Fund

Imagine if our atmosphere was nearly 100% methane and we woke up every morning to the smell of greenhouse gasses. This could happen because of food waste, food that is discarded or lost uneaten. When food is wasted, garbage trucks take it to landfills to dispose of refuse and other waste materials.  No one knows that when food reaches landfills it releases a greenhouse gas, methane. As a sixth grader at The Pegasus School, I have researched this topic in depth for two months.  Scientists have concluded that when food waste reaches landfills, it produces a gas called methane. Methane leads to global warming, a gradual increase in the overall temperature of the earth’s atmosphere that leads to attributing in the greenhouse effect. Methane impacts our earth’s climate via global warming, so everyone should start reducing the food the ends up in landfills by composting and giving food to people who need it.

Food waste from homes and businesses are thrown into landfills at an alarming rate.

Shockingly, one-third of all food for humans is thrown away or lost.  A study by Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) titled “Here’s How We Solve Our Food Waste Problem” stated that food in landfills are the third largest contributor to methane in the United States.  This evidence clearly shows that food waste makes a big impact on global warming, and we create a vast amount of it. On average, people generate 4.6 lbs of trash per day.  To add on, the world produces 17% more food than it did 30 years ago, yet almost half of it never reaches our bellies.  Our world is now producing more food than it ever has. Food waste is becoming a ongoing problem.

People are a main cause of food waste. According to”10 Shocking Food Waste Statistics,” Americans throw away  $165 billion worth of food each year. These days, it is normal not to think about just throwing out food. We are the main contributor to this big food waste problem. In fact, half of all Americans don’t even know food waste is a problem.  Food waste is the invisible force that is drowning the Earth.  People are causing this vast dilemma, and affecting our environment.

Although this serious issue is occuring, we can still find hope in fixing it.  Feeding America network and their partners rescued 3.5 billion pounds of food waste last year.  “At the end of the day, food that is not sold is then pulled from the shelves, and we are able to pick up.” Businesses should start pairing up with Feeding America, because it will reduce greenhouse gas emissions and feed people that need the food.  To add on, implementation of composting can reduce emissions by 2.3 billion tons over the next 30 years. According to “Benefits of Home Composting,” the waste stream out of your home can lessen by as much as 35% just by composting kitchen and yard waste. Not only businesses should do something about food waste, but homes should as well.  Composting could help your garden, help you become more healthy, and can help methane emissions. Our world needs us to change and start doing taking an active part in these solutions. We are in deep trouble and trying to help our environment is the main solution.

From this lack of care, our environment is hurting. According to food waste experts, 34% of all methane emissions is from rotten foods. Greenhouse gas emissions is the product of food releasing methane in landfills as they rot and then emissions are released in the atmosphere. 34% of all methane emissions is from rotten foods.  Our environment is counting on us to act now. Food waste is affecting our earth’s global warming.

We have put our home, the earth, in grave danger of no return. Our environment is drowning in methane emissions. Not only are we the cause, but we can be the cure. Most people do not care anymore about what will happen if they throw food in the trash can.  Becoming completely free of food-waste is not likely or possible to make happen , but at least trying to eliminate food waste going to landfills is the number one answer. Simply getting a bucket and starting to compost can make a big impact to our Earth. Businesses and homes need to act now. Now, you might be thinking what can just one person do to help save this big problem? The answer is you can be a part of saving your home for the rest of your life. Small steps can make a significant movement in the right decisions.

Aashna Sharma is a sixth grader at The Pegasus School. She has passionately researched the topic of food waste and waste management. She lives in Newport Beach and is concerned about the environment.

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