Want to Fight Climate Change? Don’t Waste Food

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A few days ago, my roommate and I were getting dinner at an Japanese restaurant. While we waited for food, we were having a brief discussion about the recent heat waves in Europe. Both of us felt very sad about these changes.

It was more upsetting to realize that the summers are going to be even hotter in the upcoming years. The climate of our planet is changing at an alarming rate. Earth is literally dying and nobody is doing anything meaningful about it.

Since then, I have talked with several other friends and realized that most of us feel the same way. We want to fight climate change, but our skillset and socio-economic condition are a very poor match to tackle this problem. For instance, most of us don’t own cars. We can’t help in preventing deforestation. We can’t donate any meaningful sum of money from our limited college student budgets.

So, what can we do? I thought about it for a while. I think I found a reasonable solution: we need to stop wasting food.

It should be noted that there are more efficient ways to fight climate change, but they are more demanding. For instance, turning off air conditioning for an hour every week is probably much more impactful, but most people will not be willing to participate in such a program. In contrast, reducing food waste is way easier.

Why This Matters?

You’ll be surprised to know the environmental impact of food waste.

Globally,  one third of the food produced is never eaten. [2] It contributes to 8 percent of total greenhouse gas emissions. If food waste were a country, it would come in third after the United States and China in terms of impact on global warming. [3]

An average american wastes upto 0.8 lbs (360g) of food per day or 290 lbs (131 kilograms) of food per year. [1] If you can prevent that, you might be able to save as much as $2275 per year. [2]

Limiting (even preventing) food waste is surprisingly easy. All you need to do is to eat everything you buy. For instance, take note of how much of each grocery item you use throughout the week. Do not buy more than that next time you do grocery shopping.

If you go to a restaurant, ask the waitress about serving portions. If you think there will be too much food, share with your friend. (This is especially true for buffet style restaurants and dining halls in residential dorms. I know of a sushi buffet in Boston that charges extra if customers leave their plates unfinished.)

Last but not least, never waste meat. Keep in mind that the meat on your plate comes from alive animals. Throwing away the meat is probably the most inconsiderate thing you can do to those poor animals that just died for you.

Hope you enjoy and finish your dinner next time!


  1. https://www.forbes.com/sites/christinatroitino/2018/04/23/americans-waste-about-a-pound-of-food-a-day-usda-study-finds/#497516b54ec3
  2. https://olioex.com/food-waste/food-waste-facts/
  3. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/theworldpost/wp/2018/07/31/food-waste/?utm_term=.8f42041f3b2f

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