Our planet has had its fill of your waste

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Our planet has had its fill of your waste

Image courtesy Freepik

Image courtesy Freepik

Image courtesy Freepik

Image courtesy Freepik

Editorial Staff

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If you look into one of the many trash cans around campus you will see a striking amount of food. Barely eaten and sometimes still packaged, the waste found on campus is
appalling. It’s a problem much bigger than Branham.

Throwing away edible food isn’t just wasteful, it has profound environmental effects. When there is wasted food, more food is produced than is needed, thus increasing the greenhouse gases, erosion and water use created from food
production. According to Climate Central, food waste creates 3.3 billion tons of CO2 every year.

On top of the environmental consequences of food waste, it also costs the world $750 billion
each year, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Association. With so much food waste, there are also infrastructure problems that come with increased waste transportation and storage before it is decom-
posed.

Food waste is a demanding problem, one that is reflective of poor infrastructure, a culture of affluence and apathy to environmental issues. The changes needed to reduce food waste to a non-issue are long-term and systematic. This is
why the distance of transportation of produce needs to be reduced, in order to lessen the amount of damaged food, and “aesthetically unappealing” produce needs to go to market.

While most of this food waste is due to agriculture practice, processed food producers and restaurants, a hefty amount produced by everyday citizens.  According to a study by Meredith Niles, the
Department of Agriculture and the University of New Hampshire, the average person wastes about a pound of food per day. This means, based on estimation, that Branham students
waste more than 1,500 pounds of food per day.

While we cannot change or control regulations in place by health organizations, we can control our own individual waste and help stop a culture where waste is acceptable. To reduce this waste, students can store fruits and vegetables in the proper places—most refrigerators have special drawers or places for fruits and vegetables—so that they stay fresh longer. Additionally, supporting local and organic farms at farmer’s markets, through produce delivery services or even through options available at the grocery store, will also reduce waste and promote more sustainable farming
practices.

Another, more campus-based project, that would help mitigate the environmental effects of food waste, would be to compost on campus. Composting can even be done indoors without attracting bugs or rat under the right conditions. This compostable waste could also be taken to an off-campus faculty to be processed and while the compost pile wouldn’t be large enough to process dairy or meat waste, it would certainly be a start.

Being apathetic about food waste and letting carbon footprints increase is no longer an
option. The United States and Europe account for 60 percent food waste alone and the U.S. puts 14 billion pounds of food into landfills according to the NAO. Accountability for our role in the problem is needed. Changing the systematic problems that lead to industrial food waste will take time, but we can cut down on individual waste immediately while challenging the culture of waste and the flaws of these systems. The earth is a
slow-moving system with delayed feedback, the effects we are seeing now do not even correspond with the heightening levels of food waste, which is why action is needed now and not later. We can’t afford to wait for the system to change itself.