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Impact on Planet

Food waste & our planet

Food waste takes up more space in landfills than anything else. Plus, it’s the third-largest emitter of greenhouse gas emissions behind China and the United States. In short, wasting food is a big deal.

Think of what it takes to make food. There’s land and water usage, fertilizers, farm machinery, transportation, and more. Getting food from farm to fork leaves a footprint on the environment – with each step making an impact. For food that goes unsold or uneaten, that footprint is in vain. The food hasn’t been used to feed somebody – and it’s likely to end up in a landfill.

The impact on the planet is even greater when food decomposes. It produces greenhouse gases carbon dioxide and methane. That’s why the White House named “reducing food waste in landfills” as one of their two strategies for reducing all methane emissions from landfills.

We know these harmful gases are causing our planet to warm, contributing to the climate emergency already affecting people here in Massachusetts and around the world. Food rescue is one tool we have to curb emissions from wasted food.

By the numbers: Lovin’ Spoonfuls’ environmental impact

In 2021, Lovin’ Spoonfuls kept over 4 million lbs. of good food out of landfills through our food rescue work. That means we:

Prevented 5,369 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent from being emitted into the atmosphere. That’s the equivalent of…

Greenhouse gas emissions from 1,226 passenger vehicles driven for a year – more than 14,000,000 miles or 2,343 round trips from Boston to Seattle.

Carbon dioxide emissions from more than 685,000,000 smartphones charged.

Carbon sequestered by 6,909 acres of U.S. forests in one year alone.

We also saved about 452,210,000 gallons of water that would have been used to dispose of the food we recovered. That’s the equivalent of over 22,610,500 average showers or over 2,261 Giant Ocean Tanks at the heart of the New England Aquarium.

How you can help minimize wasted food

  1. With 37% of all wasted food in the U.S. coming from households, taking action in your own home to reduce wasted food is a great way to take action. Here are some resources to get started:
  2. Support Spoonfuls’ work rescuing food at the retail level (farms, grocery stores, and wholesalers). As a nonprofit, we rely on philanthropic contributions to make our operations possible. Every $1 enables us to rescue roughly 3 lbs. of food – enough to feed a person for a day!

For more information on the environmental effects of wasted food, see here.

Note: Despite having a smaller impact on the environment than landfilled food, composting has a footprint too. That’s why we recommend composting the food scraps you can’t consume.

Learn more about Spoonfuls’ impact on people and the economy.