It’s time we at Clemson take a stand and begin working to reduce the amount of food waste we produce. Food waste is defined by the EPA as, “any food substance, raw or cooked, which is discarded, or intended or required to be discarded. Food wastes are the organic residues generated by the handling, storage, sale, preparation, cooking, and serving of foods.”(1) Last school year, over 67,000 lbs were collected for composting and this only represents a fraction of Clemson University’s total food waste production. Although composting is a great way to keep organic waste streams, like food, out of the landfill and get nutrients back into our soils; it is also important to remember that we still need to reduce the amount of food we waste.
Food waste creates both economic and environmental problems. According to NPR radio, Americans throw away over 165 billion dollars worth of food each year (2). That’s 165 billion dollars that could be invested into more”fruitful” parts of our economy. Then there are the environmental and economic damages due to methane generation. When food waste sits in landfills it produces methane, which has 21 times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide (3). By the way, land fills create 20% of all methane emissions (3).
So what can you do to reduce the amount of food you waste? Here are some tips:
- Pay attention to how much food you ask for at restaurants, dining halls, etc. If we don’t ask for more than we eat, there shouldn’t be any waste.
- Save your left overs and make a meal or snack out of them later.
- Make sure to eat perishables quickly and to not over purchase them.
- Plan your meals and snacks ahead of time. Planning ahead will allow you to purchase just the right amount of food.
With a little effort we can all reduce the amount of food we waste. We in the Clemson Composting CI hope that you will take the time to consider what you can do to help solve the problem of Food Waste.