Food Waste

The Environmental Impact of Food Waste and How You Can Help

Everybody knows that wasting food is bad, but in reality how bad is it? Food waste is a global problem with drastic environmental consequences. Today is estimated that a third of the food production goes wasted. Let’s translate it: 1.3 billion fruits, vegetables, meat, dairy, seafood, and grains that either never leave the farm, get lost or spoiled during distribution or are thrown away in hotels, grocery stores, restaurants, schools, or home kitchens. This problem leads to the excessive use of natural resources and the emission of greenhouse gases, putting the planet under strain. In this article, we will guide you through the main impact of food wastage on our planet, and how we can prevent them:

1. Wasted Resources

Producing food requires a considerable amount of resources such as water, land, energy, and labor. When food is wasted, all these resources go to waste as well. For instance, an enormous amount of water is used to grow cultivation and animals, and energy is consumed during the transportation, packaging, and refrigeration process. Here are some examples of how much water it takes to produce some of our daily staples :

  • one loaf of bread: 100 buckets of water
  • one chicken breast: 54 buckets of water
  • one potato: 6 buckets of water
  • one tomato: 1 bucket of water

2. Increased Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Food waste contributes significantly to greenhouse gas emissions, as it can be:

  • Incinerated: removing the possibility to compost the soil, and producing CO2;
  • Get rotten: in this case, it decomposes in landfills, producing methane, a greenhouse gas 28-34 times more potent than carbon dioxide, one of the largest contributors to climate change.

Sustainability pill: After fossil fuels and livestock, landfills are the third-largest emitter of methane. Food waste alone represents 8% of total global greenhouse (GHG emissions).

Moreover, emissions are generated throughout the entire food supply chain, from production to transportation to disposal. Overall, emissions from the food system as a whole, represent up to 37% of total global human-induced GHG emissions.

3. Deforestation and Biodiversity Loss

To meet the growing demand for food, large areas of forests and natural habitats are cleared for agriculture. Greenpeace estimated that 80% of global deforestation is a result of agricultural production. Moreover, this phenomenon is linked to a growing demand for animal-derived products, where the so-called “animal-agricultural” is responsible for approximately 60% of direct global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

Deforestation not only contributes to climate change but also leads to the loss of biodiversity. By reducing food waste and supporting sustainable agriculture practices, we can help protect valuable ecosystems and wildlife habitats.

4. Soil Degradation and Water Pollution

As we previously mentioned intensive agriculture and farming, are aggressive on the planet. Therefore, to keep up with the demand the food industry often involves the use of synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, and antibiotics. These chemicals can lead to:

  • Algae blooms, causing oxygen depletion in the sea, leading to the death of fish and marine organisms;
  • Emission of odors and gases (sometimes toxic) into the air;
  • The input of fertilizers in lakes and water streams causing soil erosion and increasing the risk of contamination.

By wasting less food, we can decrease the demand for such intensive agricultural and farming practices, contributing to have to healthier soils and cleaner water sources.

In WinSustainably we want to help you to make a difference for a better and greener world. Follow us on social media (Instagram, TikTok, Facebook, and LinkedIn); we provide daily suggestions to save up food and adopt an eco-friendly lifestyle. Here are some practical tips to reduce your food waste:

  • Practice mindful shopping: plan your meals ahead and create a shopping list before heading to the grocery store;
  • Proper Storage: use our guide to learn how to store properly your food (check out our article: Easy Ways to Reduce Food Waste at Home and Save Money);
  • Portion Control: be mindful of portion sizes when serving meals, you will reduce leftover food on plates. Remember, if you are still angry you can always take a second serve;
  • Repurpose Leftovers: get creative with leftovers and transform them into new and delicious dishes. Check out our Instagram and TikTok, we are all about save-leftover recipes;
  • Compost: if you have the possibility, start composting to create nutrient-rich soil for your garden, or look for the composting spot in your town;
  • Support Food Rescue Organizations: donate surplus food to local food banks or support organizations that redistribute food to those in need
  • Spread Awareness: educate your friends, family, and community about the environmental impact of food waste and the steps they can take to reduce it.

Pro tip: if you live in the UAE download WIN Sustainably, the app redirects unsold food from your favorite spot to you, for a cheaper price! Choose pick-up or delivery, and enjoy your best sustainable meal from home.

In conclusion, the environmental impact of food waste is a pressing concern that requires collective action. By understanding the consequences of food waste and adopting simple practices in our daily lives, we can significantly reduce our contribution to this problem. Using small tips, as the one previously mentioned we can make a difference. Join the WIN Sustainably community and let's make a conscious commitment to reducing food waste and preserving our planet's precious resources. Together, we can create a sustainable world for all.