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Part 1 on tackling carbon emissions: Food waste

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JULY 22, 2022

In this series, I’ll be discussing all the different sources of human-produced carbon emissions and giving some ideas on how you can lower your carbon footprint. First up is the food that you eat. 

As conversations about food waste becomes more common, we can find ways to reduce our waste in those areas. As always, let’s put some numbers behind our thinking. 

In 2021, The Guardian reported that “the global production of food is responsible for a third of all planet-heating gases emitted by human activity, with the use of animals for meat causing twice the pollution of producing plant-based foods.” Yikes. It’s difficult to think that a very necessary component of our lives is responsible for harm to our environment. Even though it will take major steps from governments and larger corporations to effectively reduce carbon emissions in this sector, consumers are responsible too — yeah, you!

Now let’s talk about solutions. As I mentioned before, producing meat creates the bulk of carbon emissions in the food industry. What’s the easy way to help lessen this problem? Eat less meat, of course. 

Beef production is especially heavy in carbon emissions. Cows are notorious for being big methane producers. This gets a lot of attention because as a gas, “methane is 28 times more potent at trapping heat in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide over a 100-year time frame,” according to an article published by GreenBiz. At a summer camp I volunteered at recently, the students had to think up solutions to big environmental issues. One that kept coming up was “stop breeding cows.” While they realized that this would be difficult because of the economic ties many industries have to the beef industry, they figured out that it’s up to consumers to lower their beef intake. 

No one’s saying you need to become a vegan right away. Even reducing your meat consumption would make a big difference. “Reduce-itarians” are becoming more popular as individuals who aren’t completely vegetarian or vegan, but eat mostly plant-based meals and consume meat less often.

Another great way to reduce your carbon footprint in your meals is having your own sources for food.Gardening, making your own jams or preserves and baking your own bread are all fun ways to start this process. 

As a co-owner of a small neighborhood bread business, I understand the value of baking bread at home. Not only are neighbors excited to support young people’s at-home businesses, but many prefer the personal connection of the process. They understand that the bread they are buying is coming from a more sustainable source. 

If you’re worried about jumping into a big baking project, bread is actually the perfect place to start.  

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, “In the United States, food waste is estimated at between 30-40 percent of the food supply.” This summer, let’s take a step to help reduce our waste. 

Contact Sophie Horvath at [email protected].
LAST UPDATED

JULY 22, 2022


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