A gift certificate for a plant based cooking class makes a great father's day gift!

It's Earth Day: Don't Waste It!

22 April 2024

20 million Americans celebrated the first Earth Day in 1970 - that was 10% of the US population at the time.  The UN designated April 22 as International Mother Earth Day in 2009, so now it's engaging over a billion people worldwide (even corporations use it for performative announcements, but that's another story…).

This year's theme is Planet vs. Plastics. Most plastic waste is landfilled, “mismanaged” or incinerated, with less than 10% getting recycled. You probably already know how I feel about single use plastics. I was happy to learn that, in Westchester County where I live, more than 90% of the recyclables collected at the curb are recycled and turned from waste into usable products. That doesn't give us a pass on reducing (plastic is not a closed loop system - it takes energy and chemicals to recycle and comes back less recyclable each time), but it's something.

Anyway, getting back in my lane, I want to talk about food WASTE... Americans discard more food than any other country in the world: nearly 40 million tons — 80 billion pounds — every year. That averages out to 235 pounds per person per year, equivalent to about 700 bananas!

Wasted food produces 10% of the world's greenhouse gases!

But here's the thing…it's not all bananas (well, it's bananas that we waste so much food, but all the food wasted is not that yellow fruit). From a strictly environmental perspective, when you waste a banana, you're only wasting about 110g in CO2 emissions. Bananas grow in natural sunlight and have their own [non-plastic] package (BTW the only reason some bananas are packaged in plastic is to reduce food waste…hmmm?).

The most frequently wasted foods tend to be bread, milk, cheese, potatoes and apples. Most of bread's impact is at the growing end, and we don't have much control there (although we can encourage or demand regenerative farming practices). Yes, it's important that we NOT waste it (it freezes well if you buy too much), AND we can be mindful about other foods that impose a higher environmental "foodprint".  For example, a 2020 McKinsey report showed that beef is 231 times more carbon intensive than wheat. So wasting that hamburger is [more than] a bit worse than wasting the bun.

If you're interested in knowing how your eating habits (plus the food you waste, because we all waste food) impact the planet, Foodprint has a 3 minute calculator .

43% of all food waste comes from homes (I'm looking at you, moldy mandarin!) and most of it ends up in landfills (producing most of our methane emissions) or incinerators (where excess moisture from food makes garbage heavier and reduces efficiency of any potential waste-to-energy).

So we have a huge OPPORTUNITY (and I'm only talking about environmental implications here - don't even get me started on the financial benefits and nutrition equity)!  If you're interested in knowing more about how you can help solve this problem, the EPA has a host of resources available here:

Preventing Food Waste At Home 

I also happen to be pretty good at shopping, meal planning, making meals from foods at the end of their useful life, and converting leftovers to “make-overs”, so reach out for more tips.

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