What environmental problems does food waste cause?
What environmental problems does food waste cause? originally appeared on Quora: the place to acquire and share knowledge, enabling people to learn from others and better understand the world.
When we waste food, we are not just wasting food. We are also wasting all the resources necessary for its growth. A illustrates how much this adds up. Food waste ends up wasting almost a quarter of our water supply in the form of uneaten food or more than $ 172 billion in wasted water. Each year, as a country, we spend over $ 220 billion to grow, transport and process the nearly 70 million tonnes of food that ends up wasted. If the land on which we grow food that is wasted in the United States were all in one place, it would cover over 3/4 of California! Growing food that is wasted ends up using 21% of our fresh water, 19% of our fertilizer, 18% of our cropland and 21% of our landfill volume.
This also comes with a significant carbon footprint. When food is dumped in a landfill, it rots and becomes a major source of methane – a potent greenhouse gas with 21 times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide. Growing and transporting wasted food emits as much carbon pollution as 39 million passenger vehicles.
The global food system is responsible for up to a third of all human-made greenhouse gas emissions, making it one of the main contributors to climate change, according to the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research. The fact that we carelessly waste 40% of our food in the United States and 33% globally means that there is enormous potential for reducing our environmental footprint. Overall, energy and transportation tend to be the face of climate change, but with the impact of food arguably greater, it certainly deserves more attention.
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