The Swag recently shared an infographic on food waste in America, and the results, though perhaps not totally surprising, are completely frustrating. Stats shared are from a 2012 report from the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC), revealing just how big the food waste problem is in America.

10 of the most shocking statistics include:

  1. Americans throw away $165 billion in food each year.
  2. 40% of food is wasted in the United States every year.
  3. 35 million tons of food are wasted in the United States each year.
  4. The average American household throws away $2,200 of food each year.
  5. The average American throws away 300 lbs. of food per year.
  6. More than 20 lbs. of food is wasted per person every month in the United States.
  7. 20% of food that the average American buys is never eaten.
  8. 90% of food is thrown away too soon.
  9. Food waste in American has grown by 204% since 1960 and 50% since 1990.
  10. Reducing food waste by just 15% would be enough to feed more than 25 million Americans every year.

The NRDC explains, “Getting food to our tables eats up 10% of the total U.S. energy budget, 50% of U.S. land, and swallows 80% of freshwater consumed in the United States.” Most wasted food ends up in landfills where the NRDC says organic matter accounts for 16% of U.S. methane emissions. Furthermore, all of that wasted food could feed many of the 46.5 million Americans (one in seven Americans) who regularly access food banks.

Why is foodwaste such a big problem for us?

Many of us simply don’t understand the far-reaching effects of food waste, and don’t fully comprehend the true value of food. We are confused by food labels and often dispose of food too soon. Lack of meal planning, shopping lists, impulse buys, and bulk purchases add to the food waste problem. The NRDC also cites over-preparation as another contributing factor to excessive food waste in America – We live in a time when large portions have become the norm, but this can lead to uneaten leftovers that end up being thrown away. Finally, the NRDC sites spoilage as the most significant contributor to food waste. The report explains, “Food spoils in homes due to improper or suboptimal storage, poor visibility in refrigerators, partially used ingredients, and misjudged food needs.”

You can read the full article on The Swag’s website, or view the entire NRDC report HERE.

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