Food Waste Across the Globe


Photo via Wikimedia Commons under Creative Commons license

Gelila Zeray

We all know the feeling: sometimes, when the lunch ladies bring in food and we’ve been starving ever since that boring class started, we may feel the need to snag two pizza bites instead of one.  However, U.S students waste 21 lbs. of food each month: as soon as we sit down to eat, we realize that we didn’t actually need that extra pizza bite so without a second thought, it goes straight into the trash can.

In the U.S alone, 365 million pounds of perfectly great food goes to waste each year. That’s like filling the world’s largest stadium to its absolute brim with food every day. Since 2012, Americans have been wasting roughly 40% of their food every year, and our nation’s goal of 50% reduction in food loss by 2030 is becoming more and more ambitious by the minute. It’s not only a problem for America, but for the world. This is evidenced by September 29th, 2021, which marked the International Day of Food Loss and Waste Awareness. If we do not prevent food waste, then there will be drastic consequences, such as the increasing severity of global warming and rising world hunger. 

Globally, this contributes to 1.3 billion tons of food produced for human consumption going to waste every year. According to the U.N Food and Agriculture Organization, the citizens of North America and Oceania waste 39% of their food from lack of consumption. That number is the result of several factors, like buying more food than needed, bigger portion sizes leading to leftovers, and not settling with the “ugly” fruits and vegetables within our local supermarkets. 

When a lot of food gets sent to landfills, it negatively affects our communities, economies, and environment. Fresh food is being thrown away, which could help feed the 1 in 8 Americans struggling with food insecurity. As a result of such food loss, we globally waste $750 billion dollars every year. To put this in perspective, a household of four could save an extra $1,500 a year — money that could’ve been used to pay bills. Finally, when food decomposes, it releases methane, a potent greenhouse gas harmful to our planet by facilitating climate change.  

Food waste is affecting our economy with money loss, our climate with methane pollution, and our communities with hunger. Now that we know food waste is such a big problem, next time we should learn more about how our school is addressing it.