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How is wasting food affecting climate change and what can we do about it?

August 6, 2021 | Charles Lin

Image by PublicDomainPictures from Pixabay

Image by PublicDomainPictures from Pixabay

About a quarter of the calories the world produces from food is thrown away, and worldwide food production accounts for 26% of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. This means food loss and waste is responsible for about 6% of global GHG emissions. In the context of emissions by countries, this amount would rank third, behind China and the United States.

Food loss and waste refers to food lost through supply chain spoilage or spillage, or wasted by retailers, restaurants, and consumers. Food that winds up in landfills create methane gas, a potent greenhouse gas, that is released to the atmosphere.

The above facts and figures come from the online scientific publication “Our World in Data”, which has additional references for more information.

Do these sobering facts prompt us to do something about the GHG emissions from food production – reducing our food loss and waste? This is in itself a good thing to do; after all, who would want to waste food?

At our own homes, we can reduce food waste by planning our food purchase with realistic consumption expectation, learning about food storage methods, and understanding best before dates. We show below several government and non-profit websites that offer such tips.

Beyond our own homes, we can learn about the efforts of Canada’s largest food rescue charity with a dual mission of environmental protection and hunger relief.

There are also apps that help to reduce food waste in restaurants and supermarkets in Toronto. We can reduce food waste, save some money, and help the planet at the same time!

Charles Lin

Charles is a retired atmospheric scientist based in Toronto. He stays busy as founder and lead of ImpactNetZero, keeping healthy in mind and body, and reading stories to his two grandchildren.

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