Reduce Methane Emissions, Finish your Peas

29 Jan

There is a lot of talk about the amount of methane gas produced by cows. Methane (CH4) is another green house gas (like carbon dioxide) that is released into the atmosphere. Methane is a more potent gas than carbon dioxide.  A lot of people make jokes about cow farts- and its true cow farts do release methane into the environment and all of this is true. However, cows and farting are not the only way in which methane is released.  It is also released into the atmosphere when organic matter decomposes. That means any food products that you don’t finish and they go into a landfill somewhere will lead to the release of methane into the environment. Have you ever noticed those pipes sticking out of landfills- yep that’s why they are there, to prevent gas build up from the organic matter as it breaks down.

Maybe you are not ready to go vegetarian yet, but you do want to help reduce the amount of methane released into the atmosphere. All you have to do, is finish the food on your plate. The EPA has a website that gives visitors “Basic Information about Food Waste,” here are some of the highlights.

  • Americans throw away more than 25 percent of the food we prepare, about 96 billion pounds of food waste each year
  • The US spends about one billion dollars a year to dispose of food waste
  • The food industry estimates that 4% to 10% of food purchases become waste before ever reaching a guest
  • In 2008, about 12.7 percent of the total municipal solid waste (MSW) generated in America was food scraps

And these statistics do not include paper and yard trimmings that make up nearly 45% of our MSW.

I am sure we could find a better way to spend the one billion dollars that goes to disposal of food waste. Plus, there are starving people in the world. And as the world population increases we are continually worried about how to feed everyone, maybe the answer is that Americans shouldn’t throw away so much food. And finally, everyone wants their quick and easy ways to save the world – well this is it. Even if you don’t want to build a compost bin or pile to generate a value by-product from the breakdown of this organic matter, you can easily eat the food you make for yourself! That simple task will lead to a reduction in methane and green house gases!

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Posted by on January 29, 2010 in food, sustainability


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