Food Waste in United States

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Updated: Mar 28, 2022
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In average, an American citizen will produce 4.4 pounds of trash in a single day. With the population of the United States being about 324 million, this equates daily to about 700,000 tons of trash produced. The biggest amount of wasted resources, though, is food waste. 1.3 billion tons of food is lost or wasted across the globe in the span of one year (Loki). The effect of this kind of waste on the environment is extremely destructive and detrimental. Gases like carbon dioxide and methane wear down on the atmosphere, causing global warming.

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If Americans do not take the necessary steps to reduce the unnecessary amount of trash and waste produced, the environment will continue to decline and cities and towns will become wastelands. Recycling and reducing waste has many benefits. Americans across the nation should recycle and cut down on the number of resources wasted with just a few simple measures.

The benefits of recycling have lasting positive effects on the environment and the well-being of planet Earth. Not only does it reduce the amount of waste sent to landfills and incinerators, but it also conserves natural resources like timber, water, and minerals (Recycling Basics). Trash that is not transported correctly can make its way to oceans and rivers. This trash ruins natural habitats and is toxic to animals that accidentally consume of it. Chemicals transferred through plastic that is consumed by animals have detrimental effects on the food chain (Impacts of Mismanaged Trash). Through recycling, though, trash is collected and repurposed to give waste other purposes that do not include killing innocent animals.

Recycling provides jobs and support to American manufacturing, saves energy, and reduces pollution. According to Recycling Basics, over 757,000 jobs have been produced in recent times because of the recycling industry. Recovered materials are now being used to make newspaper, paper towels, soft drink containers, laundry detergent bottles, carpet, park benches, and asphalt used in making roads. If trash is sent to landfills, though, it often takes hundreds to thousands of years to decompose. LeBlanc said, Plastic waste is one of many types of wastes that take too long to decompose. Normally, plastic items can take up to 1000 years to decompose in landfills. But plastic bags we use in our everyday life take 10-1000 years to decompose, while plastic bottles can take 450 years or more. If glass is recycled, it can be melted down to make more glass. If it is sent to landfills, though, it takes millions of years to decompose or may not decompose at all (LeBlanc). With repurposing materials that have already been used, Americans can reduce the amount of paper, plastic, glass, and metal that is building up in landfills and oceans.

Besides trash destroying the planet, food waste also causes destruction to the environment. Because food is thrown in the trash and then taken to landfills, carbon dioxide is produced and causes severe global warming. Methane, another powerful greenhouse gas, is 84 times as harmful as carbon dioxide. With an estimated 222 million tons of food wasted per year in developed countries like America, one can just imagine how much this amount of food devastates the Earth (Loki). In less developed countries, food waste occurs due to mold and insect infestations because of poor storage. Contrastingly, food waste in America is caused by another factor. Most Americans waste food in their very own kitchens. According to 8 Facts to Know About Food Waste and Hunger, Roughly 30% to 40% of the food supply in the U.S. is wasted, which works out to more than 20 pounds of food per person per month. If Americans do not take responsibility for how food is wasted, the environment will continue to deteriorate and world hunger will remain a problem for decades to come.

Americans can utilize several doable methods to reduce the amount of trash that is mishandled and food wasted. Instead of buying individual packages of snacks and produce, choose to purchase in bulk. To divide out these large amounts of food, implement reusable containers. Plan with these ingredients to avoid letting good food spoil. In doing this, money is saved, trash build-up is lessened, and resources are used properly. Separate glass, aluminum, paper, and plastic to be placed in curbside bins, drop-off centers, or they can even be sent to deposit and refund organizations. Utilizing compost bins for food scraps along with yard waste can greatly decrease the amount of waste that is transferred. Instead of throwing away used printer paper, use it as scratch paper to jot down quick notes or lists (Loki). Applying these reasonable measures to one’s everyday life can greatly decrease the amount of waste that is produced over time.

Trash and food waste can build up and have harmful effects on the world and its resources. If Americans do not take responsibility for the amount of waste that is produced, hunger, pollution, and decomposition will continue to increase. The processes of recycling lead to economic growth and health of nature and humans. Reducing food waste can help to decrease hunger and global warming. With just a few simple measures taken by all Americans, the effects of trash and food waste can be slowed down.

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Food Waste in United States. (2020, Jan 10). Retrieved from