Vail Daily letter: Food waste and climate change
Ryan Summerlin April 1, 2014
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, over $750 billion in food is wasted globally per year. In the US alone, 40 percent of food is thrown away, costing $400 per person annually. CO2 emissions from wasted food are being produced at a faster rate than our environment can handle, contributing to climate change. Global temperatures are rising, ice caps are melting, and we are essentially not doing enough to reverse the effects.
At the Vail Ski and Snowboard Academy, we offer an extremely healthy and sizeable lunch plan to feed all of the elite athletes attending the school. Unfortunately, a significant amount of food is wasted, contributing to the 31 million tons of food being brought to U.S. landfills per year. As wasted food rots, it turns to both CO2 and methane. The senior class at VSSA is working towards reducing the amount of food wasted at our school, and subsequently lowering our carbon footprint. We plan to make less food and compost all of the food that we throw away, essentially reducing our carbon footprint due to food waste to zero.
If every school in Eagle County could reduce their food waste to a minimal amount, we would make a point in the fight towards sustainability. If every school in the state could, we would make a change in sustainability. If every school in the country could, we would start a revolution! It will truly be easy to reduce this amount, simply by eating a larger percent of what we cook, and composting what we don’t eat. Laziness is not a valid excuse for wasting food and emitting 500 kilograms of CO2 into the atmosphere per person.
Some may argue that there is no scientific evidence that proves that CO2 and methane in the atmosphere contribute to climate change, but that idea has been proven to be wrong. The International Panel on Climate Change has 95 percent statistical certainty that climate change is human-caused. It is clear that the world cannot buffer the amount of gas in the atmosphere. Additionally, reducing food waste saves money, assisting our community and our economy. No matter how you look at it, reducing food waste will have a positive impact.
If the U.S. stopped wasting food altogether, it would be the equivalent of taking a quarter of the cars in the country off of the road. The Shane McConkey Eco Challenge has inspired VSSA to go green through composting and reducing the amount of food made at our school. Let’s reduce our carbon footprint — what will inspire you?
Corey Steinke, Breanne Mat and Katie Talbot
Students, Vail Ski and Snowboard Academy