Currently in the United States, a third of our available food is thrown away into landfills. Considering the excessive amount of land, water, energy, and labor put into crop cultivation in the United States, our waste habits will affect our quality of life. Not only do we contaminate land and water when growing food, but a third of those crops putrefy in the soil of more land. Food waste does not only pertain to local environmental pollution, but also on a global scale. As food decomposes, methane gas is released and contributes to climate change.
Effective change begins in cities, like Chicago, where a majority of the world’s population lives. One solution to prevent excessive waste is to redistribute unsold food. A non-for-profit organization based in Maryland called Food Network Recovery tracks unsold food at farmer’s markets and donates to food banks. If implemented in a city setting, this would positively affect areas in the city that do not have easy access to healthy food options or people who cannot afford fresh food. While this plan benefits the health of the city population, it also aid the city’s health as well.
As for existing waste, it is not completely useless. Instead of letting waste rot without a purpose, it can be used as biogas for energy. Restaurant grease traps, spoiled grocery store products, and cafeteria waste is mixed with cow manure in technology known as anaerobic digestion to collect methane. The methane is then connected to a gas pipeline to be used as energy for electricity. Currently, the largest biogas facility in North America, produces over 50 megawatts of renewable natural gas. Waste is an inevitable issue when it comes to every civilization, but it is better to make make use out of every resource.