Organic Consumers Association

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The Climate Impact of the Food in the Back of Your Fridge

Many of us have had the experience of opening the refrigerator door, reaching to the back and pulling out the remains of a dinner spoiled and gone to waste. No one likes to waste food, and the negative emotions we feel when we do stem from a variety of sources.

What may not come immediately to mind, however, is food waste’s impact on the climate. According to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, 30 percent of food is wasted globally across the supply chain, contributing 8 percent of total global greenhouse gas emissions. If food waste were a country, it would come in third after the United States and China in terms of impact on global warming.

Carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide and hydrofluorcarbons (fluorinated gases used in refrigeration) are produced and emitted from food production to our refrigerators. And don’t forget all the metal cans, plastic bags and cardboard boxes our food comes in.

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