Another year, another new statistic about food waste in America, an even present problem that 24 percent of people from a 500 surveyed, have said that they don’t have enough time to care about it.
America’s waste of food is nothing new; it has been pretty well documented that Americans throw out 70 billion pounds of food on average per year, with a cost of $160 billion. The novelty comes from a recent study in the journal PLOS ONE, which researches the impact food waste has on the environment, how people think and react to this problem and tries to understand why they throw out so much food.
According to the survey from the study, 77 percent of participants said they felt guilty about throwing away food, as one very well should when 48 million other people in the US don’t have the same food security. 51 percent said it would be too difficult to reduce their food waste.
Perhaps the most surprising statistic is the fact that less than 60 percent understand how, besides the obvious waste of resources, food waste affects the environment. They are not aware of the fact that when food is disposed of in a landfill, it rots and becomes a significant source of methane – a potent greenhouse gas with 21 times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide. Not to mention all the fuel and fertilizer used in the production of that food.
“People haven’t quite made the link between food waste and the environmental consequences of food waste,”
says Brian Roe, a professor of agricultural marketing and policy at Ohio State University and co-author of the study.
One other interesting fact is that the amount of food wasted per person on average tends to increase with the amount of disposable income available. The study found that people with a higher income tend to be even less willing to be bothered with reducing their food waste.
Some individuals even see it either as a bit of a luxury to waste food, and 70 percent think that some waste is necessary to avoid getting sick from expired food. In this regard, the study suggests that by removing the “sell-by” or “use-by” dates on food packages food waste could be reduced significantly.
The study also found that awareness regarding food waste has increased in the past year, being 10 percent higher according to Roe than it the previous study, but still very low overall. More important than awareness about food waste is actually taking action, which few people have taken.
How much food do you waste? Will you try to reduce its amount?
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