Reducing Your Food Waste Is (Officially) The Best Thing You Can Do To Fight Climate Change

Last week, Project Drawdown released their Drawdown Solutions analysis that actually comes bearing good news: we “average people” can make a difference when it comes to climate change. And as it turns out, the way we treat our waste (especially reducing your food waste) makes a MAJOR impact.

The Problem With Food Waste

It’s no secret that we waste a ton of food in the U.S. Nearly 40% of all food produced is waste, to the tune of 119 billion pounds of food every year.

So where does that food go if it’s not in our bellies? That’s right—your local landfill. 

Food is the single-largest input in landfills and costs the U.S. an estimated $408 billion per year, which is roughly 2% of the U.S. GDP. Landfilled food waste is also a significant source of methane, a potent greenhouse gas (GHG). Methane from landfills accounts for about 4% of US GHG emissions, which only adds more pressure to growing climate concerns.

How Reducing Your Food Waste Fights Climate Change

The food waste problem is a massive problem that spans practically every continent. But here’s the good news: mitigating your own food waste is the #1 thing you can do to reduce your climate footprint

Here are just a few of the ways reducing food waste makes a difference:

  • Decreased Strain On Resources: Reducing the amount of food you waste means every ounce of energy that goes into making that food—from the land where it is grown, the water from irrigation, and the fuel for transport—is put to good use. It also can help cut down on the amount of energy needed to produce that food in the first place. 
  • Lower Methane Emissions: When you pile up that rotting food in the landfills, that organic waste eventually releases methane. If you can reduce the amount of organic waste in landfills, then not only do you save space, but you cut out those emissions as well.
  • Circular Mindset: You can further reduce your food waste by composting, either on a personal or community-wide level. Not only do you keep those food scraps out of the landfill, but you can also put them to good use by fertilizing new food sources, which helps reuse them and contribute to a more circular mindset in the community. 

So how can you actually put these into practice? 

  • Focus on a plant-rich diet.
  • Meal plan for the week too avoid impulse buys.
  • Focus on meals that are seasonal and tailored to your taste.
  • Compost at home (even if it’s just a personal bucket for your food scraps!)
  • Advocate for composting services in your city or municipality.

Individual Action Matters 

Fact: The worst offenders of climate change are giant corporations. 

Also fact: The things we do still matter!

It’s easy to become discouraged when you see how the numbers stack up. But just because the big boys do the most damage doesn’t mean that we as individuals can’t do the most good. 

Most of our emissions (up to 75%) can be reduced by the titans of industry, but we have our own “bottom-up” impact too—by how we use our vote, our energy, and our money. 

We as individuals can cause a ripple effect with our decisions. Project Drawdown is a huge advocate of this as well, and in their most recent analysis, they identified 20 actions that people can take to help reduce future emissions by up to 25%. 

Individual action on climate change isn’t just a perk—they’re essential to fighting this issue from the roots. Our approach to reducing food waste is no exception!

Now it’s your turn!

Ready to lead the charge toward sustainable materials management? Become a SWEEP member and connect with like-minded individuals and organizations. Reach out at to sign up today!

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