Help the climate by not wasting holiday food

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In a world struggling with climate change, one often overlooked factor in the situation is food waste. Every year, a staggering amount of food ends up in landfills, emitting greenhouse gases and exacerbating the global climate crisis.

As a mom, I know that during the holiday season this problem tends to get worse. Let’s explore the link between food waste and climate change and discover how we can contribute to solutions from our kitchens and dinner tables.

When food products, from fruits and vegetables to meat and dairy products, end up in landfills, they undergo anaerobic decomposition due to lack of oxygen. This process produces methane, a powerful greenhouse gas that is significantly more efficient at trapping heat in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide (CO2).

During the festive season, the pressure on households to prepare spectacular feasts and sumptuous meals can exacerbate the problem of food waste.

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According to Feeding America, the United States wastes 119 billion pounds of food annually, which equates to 130 billion meals and a staggering $408 billion in food waste. Nearly 40% of all food in America is wasted. Even more alarming, that figure is expected to increase by 21% to 25% between Thanksgiving and New Year’s.

The problem of food waste is not limited to one region: it is a global problem. In developing countries, food loss often occurs at the production and transportation stages due to inadequate infrastructure, while in developed countries consumer waste plays a more significant role. Regardless of where it occurs, the environmental impact is severe, exacerbating climate change and intensifying resource scarcity.

However, there are practical steps we can all take to tackle this problem and make a difference as we enjoy the season. Let’s get started this Thanksgiving.

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First, spread the word. Simple actions by our family and friends can make a big difference.

Planning your meals will help you create a shopping list to make sure you only buy what you need. Also, serving reasonable portions avoids leftovers going to waste.

Proper storage of perishable items such as fruits and vegetables provides the right conditions to ensure their freshness.

The first-in, first-out (FIFO) system organizes your fridge and pantry so that the items that were put in first are used before newer ones.

Make the most of leftovers by turning them into new meals or freezing them for later use in convenient reusable containers.

Paying attention to expiration dates is one of the most effective ways to reduce food waste. Learn the difference between “use by” and “best by” dates to reduce the unnecessary disposal of still-eatable products.

Finally, consider composting to reduce methane emissions in landfills.

Dealing with food waste is not only a matter of reducing economic losses, but also mitigating the climate crisis. The link between food waste and greenhouse gas emissions is undeniable and we all have a role to play in curbing this problem.

This is a gift we can all give to our planet.

Thais Lopez Vogel is co-founder and trustee of the VoLo Foundation, a non-profit organization focused on science-based climate solutions, education and health. This opinion was shared by The Invading Sea website (, which publishes news and commentary on climate change and other environmental issues affecting Florida.

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