You might not think that eliminating food waste would be an important part of the fight against climate change, but in fact, the two issues are closely connected.

Food Foolish book cover

Mandyck: “If you measured food waste as a country, it would be the world’s third largest emitter of greenhouse gases.”

That’s John Mandyck, who with Eric Schultz authored the book Food Foolish: The Hidden Connection Between Waste, Hunger, and Climate Change. In the book, the authors argue that in order to make a dent in the 3.3 billion metric tons of CO2 produced by food waste worldwide, we have to reduce that waste at every level. And in the United States, the scale is pretty staggering.

Mandyck: “Imagine purchasing three bags of groceries. While driving home toss one half of one bag of food onto the road. That represents the loss that occurs during harvest, processing, and distribution. Arrive home and immediately toss the other half of the bag into the trash. That’s the waste experienced by retailers and consumers.”

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But in spite of this, Mandyck is hopeful U.S. food waste and the resulting emissions can be cut in half within 15 years. He says educating consumers about the harmful effects of food waste and promoting better shopping habits will be key strategies.

Reporting credit: ChavoBart Digital Media/Peter Bresnan.

More Resources
Food Foolish: The Hidden Connection Between Food Waste, Hunger and Climate Change
Food Waste: The Facts
Food Wastage Footprint: Impacts on Natural Resources

Jan O'Brien was assistant editor and website manager at Yale Climate Connections from 2007-2022. She brought more than three decades of experience in environmental publishing and policy research and more...