By: Suri Zheng
The world wastes about ¼ billion tons of food yearly, and the United States contributes the most, with 80 billion pounds of food wasted yearly. (rts). Food experts estimate 80 billion pounds is about 30% to 40% of our nation’s food supply. “That’s like every person in America throwing more than 650 average-sized apples right into the garbage — or rather right into landfills, as most discarded food ends up there”(rts). Food takes up more space in our landfills than any other substance in the U.S. yearly.
Could you say it was because of the pandemic? It Isn’t. Even with more people ordering takeout during the pandemic, food waste was still significant even before the pandemic. Before COVID-19, an estimated 35 million people across the United States including 10 million children, suffer from food scarcity. So why are we wasting so much food when 1/10 of the population in the U.S. is suffering from a lack of food? The answer is complicated. According to rts, “More than 80% of Americans discard perfectly good, consumable food simply because they misunderstand expiration labels. Labels like “sell by”, “use by”, “expires on”, “best before” or “best by” are confusing to people — and to not risk the potential of a foodborne illness, they’ll [just] toss it in the garbage”.
There is plenty of food in the U.S. which contributes to the assumption that people in the U.S. don’t care about free things or things that are rather plenty. Which is true in some cases. But the good news is, some state legislators are already taking action to reduce the amount of food waste going to landfills starting with California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont. According to the Vermont Foodbank, “as a result of the new law, food donations statewide have increased 40 %” rts says. These new laws can pave a way for other states to follow in the future and reduce food waste drastically.