These facts aren’t for the faint of heart, but they should be shared with everyone. In our daily school, work, and social lives, it’s easy to delude ourselves about the very real environmental challenges we face.
Take a moment to read through some of these statistics, and be sure to click on them to see longer explanations. We predict that you’ll be as alarmed as we were when we first discovered how serious the situation truly was.
We also included some inspiring facts at the bottom – statistics that give us hope.
Food Waste Facts
▶ Around the world, approximately 1/3 of all the food grown for human consumption (1.3 billion tons) is lost or wasted.
Instead of being recycled into clean energy and organic fertilizer, this food is lost, wasted, incinerated, or left to rot.
When you factor in the billions of tons cultivated for livestock, it is estimated that nearly 50% of the world’s food supply goes to waste.
▶ We recycle less than 3% of all the food waste that could be repurposed into organic fertilizers and clean, renewable energy.
In 2006, American households discarded roughly 14% of the consumable products they purchased. In economic terms, that’s $600 in wasted money per household or $43 billion for the entire country.
▶ Discarded food scraps represent the largest component of municipal solid waste (MSW) sent to landfills and incinerators.
When you factor in yard clippings, paper, and wood waste (all of which can be recycled into fertilizer and green energy), total organic waste accounts for 2/3 of the solid waste stream.
▶ Non-recycled food waste is one of the primary contributors of methane – an incredibly harmful greenhouse gas.
In addition, the landfills used to store food waste account for more than 20% of all methane emissions.
To put this in perspective, the average American citizen eats just under 5 pounds of food on a daily basis (according to the USDA). This means that the food each one of us wastes in one year would be enough to feed us for nearly 2 months.
Food Production Facts
This figure doesn’t necessarily include water used on livestock, much of which also goes to waste.
We spend more than $5 billion annually on petro-fertilizers derived from toxic fossil fuels. These synthetic fertilizers leak dangerous chemicals into the soil, accelerating the release of nitrous oxide – a greenhouse gas 300 times more powerful than CO2.
When you consider all of the organic recycling potential locked up in food waste, it seems silly to rely on fossil fuel alternatives when we could create organic fertilizers directly from this waste.
It seems even stranger that we would import 80% of our fertilizers from abroad. We already have domestic resources that literally “go to waste.”
When you add up all 400 of the known dead zones around the globe, you get an area nearly the size of Wyoming.
Room for Hope?