How Much Food Is In Your Refrigerator?


“Re-Cycle” (2016). Ciao Italia Family Classics, Ciao Italia, Retrieved from

Americans “throw out at least a quarter of everything that comes through your kitchen,” (Kramer, 2015). According to the U.S Environmental Protection Agency, forty percent is thrown away from homes to restaurants. In addition, “In 2010, the greenhouse gas emissions from producing food destined for the garbage can was equivalent to the greenhouse gases emitted annually by 33 million cars,” (Kramer, 2015).

The environmental impact of food production and waste is alarming. However, to overcome these problems, cities should implement “[…] methods in landscape ecology—particularly those of landscape metrics, spatial scaling, and landscape sustainability—,” (Huang, Wu and Yan, 2015). One method of landscape sustainability can be done by composting practices.

In 2015, the City of Chicago approved ordinance to expand composting program citywide. The ordinance include: the expansion of composting operations as well as a community garden registry and urban farm composting operation permit. The purpose of this ordinance is to allow reuse organic materials at community gardens and urban farms to be measure and ensure public health standards. “Urban agriculture is an important piece in making our communities more environmentally friendly and sustainable,” “[…] Expanding composting is an easy way to support our neighborhoods in growing their own fresh fruits and vegetables right in their own backyards” said Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

Moreover, the ordinance would allow to urban farmers to compost landscape waste such as grass and undergrowth clippings as well as limited organic waste, such as vegetables, eggshells and food leftovers. Also, the ordinance would create new ‘Urban Farm Accessory Composting Operation Permit’ which allows farmers to apply for a permit to compost livestock waste as well.

Chicago adopting and implementing this kind of policy allows the reuse of organic materials that otherwise be considered waste or ended up in a landfill. Due to the fact that, composting is one of the most significant ingredients to sustainable food production as well as to repair the condition of the soil, it is important to reuse this material. Also, compost would introduce new tools to urban farmers to reuse organic materials and thus create a more sustainable and equitable food system citywide.

Finally, composting allows Chicago’s residents to protect the environment by growing their own food at home (more healthy produce available) and thus reduces the many miles in which our fresh food travels to get to our plates. The last point is so important to empower our city to consume what is grow locally as well as to  reduce some of the environmental costs of food waste.



Huang, Wu and Yan (2015). “Defining and measuring urban sustainability: a review of indicators,” Springer Science and Business Media Dordrecht 2015, Retrieved from

Mayor’s Press Office (2015). “City Council Approves Ordinance to Expand Citywide Composting Program,” Retrieved from

Kramer, Sarah (2015). “Chicagoans waste 55 million pounds of food each month,” Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications, Northwestern University, Retrieved from




2 thoughts on “How Much Food Is In Your Refrigerator?

  1. I like how this post is a relatable topic to everyone whose had more food than they needed in their fridge and choosing to throw it away in the garbage. The ordinance to expand composting programs would definitely allow for many people in the Chicago area to take greener actions. My relatives in Toronto as well as their neighborhoods and throughout the city have their own compost containers in which they would put food waste in. If the Chicago population would become more involved in this activity, there definitely would be better, sustainable habits for this dense urban population. Aside from composting programs, this would also take efforts from the people who reside in Chicago as well. Have you thought of what incentives or ways to promote composting/growing fresh food so that the public could be influence towards carrying out more environmentally-friendly habits? Has the ordinance made any impact on the UIC community, and if not, what benefits could this ordinance provide for UIC?


  2. It’s awesome Chicago is taking part in this! I think Copenhagen has opened its first grocery store selling only post-expiration-date food and misshapen produce. There was also a campaign across France a few years ago glorifying all body types of food, meaning imperfect fruits and veggies, that taste just as good. In some countries, it’s even illegal for a grocery store to throw away food that could be donated. I haven’t heard much about this sort of thing happening in the US, so I’m glad to read your post!


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