When you think about how humans contribute to greenhouse gases – those substances like carbon dioxide and methane that trap heat energy like blankets around the Earth – you likely think about pollution from automobiles, coal electric plants and refrigerants. In considering how you can reduce the impact your lifestyle has on the environment, you likely think about fuel efficient cars and solar panels. But did you know that one of the greatest contributors to greenhouse gas production is also one of the cheapest to impact?
In 2017, a group of researchers with the help of Paul Hawken published a list of sources that contributed to global greenhouse gas production. The group, Project Drawdown, further prioritizes the list of problems and potential solutions. The no. 3 opportunity to reduce greenhouse gases? Food waste.
The effects of food waste are many. Fuel is spent transporting food that will be eaten (about a third of food grown is not eaten). Growing food consumes resources. And food waste sent to landfill is broken down over decades by bacteria that produce high quantities of methane, a greenhouse gas 30 times as potent as CO2.
So yes, you can buy a Tesla, change to LED light bulbs, and install solar panels on your house to reduce greenhouse gas production. Meanwhile, for a tiny fraction of the cost (or even free), you could eliminate your food waste completely.
The trick is… there is no trick.
You can start as soon as you finish reading this post. Here are a few behaviors to consider:
- Purchase perishable goods only just before you need them
- Save leftovers and reincorporate into future meals
- Compost food that has spoiled and/or will not be eaten, preventing most of the methane it would produce in a landfill
The reader may be wondering where the rest of the list is. We confess this isn’t as exciting as a Tesla, and yet it could address 8% of global greenhouse gas production. You could be that change, and you could start before the day is through. Now, that is pretty exciting.
Interested in composting, but don’t want to fuss with it? Sign up for weekly curbside food waste collection with Food Cycle KC. Want to get fresh produce more regularly but without as many trips to the grocery? Try a meal service like Imperfect Foods, order your grocery list for delivery from the local grocery store or, better yet, buy a share of produce from a local CSA such as KC Farm School at Gibbs Road.
As with anything, the most important thing is to start. Share this with your friends. Let us know what you want to start. And be a hard core friend of the Earth.