The amount will probably shock you.
While it’s true that some cities now require composting, more restaurants are banning unnecessary plastics like straws, and more people are trying to reduce waste in their own homes by using food that would usually be discarded (like broccoli stems), Americans still have a huge problem with waste. The average American wastes about a pound of food everyday—that’s about 150,000 tons of food nationwide.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture, in collaboration with the University of Vermont and the University of New Hampshire, released these findings this week in scientific journal Plos One. Researchers also found that people with “higher quality diets”—which presumably means people who eat healthier—actually waste more, perhaps because they’re buying more produce.
“Eating healthy is important, and brings many benefits, but as we pursue these diets, we must think much more consciously about food waste,” Meredith Niles, one of the study’s authors, told Newsweek.
Wasted food does more damage than simply go in the garbage when it could have been eaten or reused. That food drinks up 4 trillion gallons of water and takes up space on 30 million acres of cropland every year.
If you’re looking for ways reduce food waste in your own home, you might look to Stephanie Izard, who shared her tips for reusing the parts of vegetables that usually get thrown in the garbage. The staff of the Food & Wine test kitchen are also experts at reducing food waste. Their tips for keeping waste to a minimum can be easily implemented in your kitchen.
If you’re ready to take your dedication to cleaning up the environment to the next level, then you might consider growing your own food. Even people who live in cities are capable of starting mini vegetable gardens. Brent Preston, author of The New Farm, which chronicles his experience of starting of his own farm in Canada, talked to Food & Wine about 7 ways you can grow vegetables, even if the only extra space you have is a fire escape.