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The Impact of Our Food Waste

The food waste we generate every day from the things we throw away at home to those unfinished scraps on our plate at our favorite restaurant have a far greater impact on the environment than expected. According to the Food and Agriculture Association (FAO) it has been estimated that if food waste was a country it would be the third highest emitter of greenhouse gases. This isn’t even factoring in the emissions and pollution we generate from the packaging and transportation of our food either. Food waste also emits the worst greenhouse gas that there is - Methane. This gas has 86 times more the global warming effect than carbon dioxide.

There are many reasons for this trend of food waste and greenhouse emissions. In wealthier nations the general habit of ordering and making large meals encourages overconsumption and waste. We are a part of an exploding population that enjoys eating, and in turn also wasting more and more food. In the United States 40% of food produced isn’t even eaten because it goes bad and gets thrown away whole in stores, restaurants, or from our fridge.

Corporations and politicians will say we need to produce more food to “feed a growing population” and “feed the hungry.” This is exactly what has been happening for years; a FAO report states that the “total production of primary crops increased by 53 percent between 2000 and 2019, hitting a record high of 9.4 billion tonnes in 2019.” All this food is being produced yet 16 million homes are food insecure in the United States alone, one of the wealthiest countries in the world. How could anyone be food insecure if the amount of food produced worldwide has more than doubled in about two decades? Food productivity rates (the efficiency at which we produce food) have also been at an all time high; the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has given us this beautiful graph below showing how our improved seed varieties, genetic enhancement in livestock, advanced machinery, robotics, and other innovations have greatly increased our yields.

The world is raining food, productivity is soaring, and yet our problems still remain. As shown on the graph we are even losing agriculture jobs so we can't even claim a victory for laborers. It’s the same story of corporate profits and political lobbying that we are all too accustomed to these days. A good book explaining the current situation of industrial/corporate farming is Food Fight by McKay Jenkins; it spells out what all this food production is actually for (ethanol production and profits), the death of small farmers, the corporate takeover and mistreatment of farm land, political lobbying, pesticide usage, the shadiness and benefits of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO's), and more.

The bottom line is that they know they aren’t feeding the hungry or creating jobs. They know that the production of the food itself grows the population larger. They know we waste almost half of the food we produce anyways. Worst of all they know it destroys the planet. So it’s up to us to figure out how we are going to handle this waste we are producing down to every single waste producing individual out there. We believe here at the Kaimuki Compost Collective there is a creative use for everything that we throw away, even outside of food waste. The video posted below is about a group that has figured out how to make leather out of large amounts of mango peel waste that was ultimately going to end up in landfills.

While we have grander goals to make creative uses out of our wastes like vegan leather we wanted to start simple and make food waste into compost for local farmers and gardeners on the Hawaiian islands. We see it as an immediate step for any household or business that wants to be conscious about where their waste is going and how it will ultimately affect the environment. If you want to learn more about our system please click the link below and join the movement!

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