You may think wasted food would compost easily and give nutrients back to the earth like in the garden compost pile. Food scraps in both the compost heap and landfill are decomposed by aerobic bacteria that deplete the oxygen.
Once the oxygen is depleted, anaerobic bacteria take over the job, producing methane. A green house gas more powerful than carbon dioxide, methane gas can be produced from this waste in a landfill for up to 60 years.
According to a recent study, 39% of the available food supply, 1,400 calories per day per person in the US, is wasted every day from food left on the plate, spoilage and food disposed for other reasons.
So, what can you do to save money and resources?
- Plan your meals so that there are no leftovers, or so that you can turn leftovers into another tasty meal. If someone in the household turns up their nose at leftovers, explain how they are helping to save the environment, and your food budget.
- Store your purchased food properly so that there is no waste due to spoilage.
- Order a smaller portion unless you know you’ll consume what’s in the doggie bag when you eat out. Many appetizers make a good meal, and a lot of restaurants will allow their menu items to be shared.
How do you handle your leftovers? Share your tips and recipes in the comments section below.
Hall KD, Guo J, Dore M, Chow CC (2009) The Progressive Increase of Food Waste in America and Its Environmental Impact. PLoS ONE 4(11): e7940. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0007940
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