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What environmental problems does wasting food cause? originally appeared on Quora: the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.
Answer by Ben Simon, Co-Founder & CEO at Imperfect Foods, on Quora:
When we waste food, we’re not just wasting food. We’re also wasting all the resources that went into growing it. A great report by the NRDC illustrates just how much this adds up. Food waste ends up wasting nearly a quarter of our water supply in the form of uneaten food or over $172 billion in wasted water. Each year, as a country we spend over $220 billion growing, transporting, and processing almost 70 million tons of food that ends up going to waste. If the land that we cultivate growing food that goes to waste in the US were all in one place, it would cover more than 3/4 of California! Growing food that goes to waste ends up using up 21% of our freshwater, 19% of our fertilizer, 18% of our cropland, and 21% of our landfill volume.
This comes with a heavy carbon footprint as well. When food is disposed 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. Growing and transporting the food that goes to waste emits as much carbon pollution as 39 million passenger vehicles.
The global food system is responsible for up to one third of all human-caused greenhouse gas emissions, making it one of the largest contributors to climate change, according to the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research. The fact that we carelessly waste 40% of our food in the U.S. and 33% globally means there is huge potential to reduce our environmental footprint. Big picture, energy and transportation tend to be the face of climate change, but with food’s impact arguably larger it definitely deserves more of a focus.
This question originally appeared on Quora – the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world. You can follow Quora on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+. More questions:
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