A newspaper article recently noted that: “The average person generates 4.3 pounds of waste per day. This is 1.6 pounds more than most produced back in 1960. Where does it all go? Approximately 55% of 220 million tons of waste generated each year in the United States ends up in one of the over 3,500 landfills. Municipal solid waste landfills are the second-largest source of human-related methane emissions in the United States, accounting for approximately 22 percent of these emissions in 2008 (EPA, 2011).”
Oh great. Humans create more hot air gasses from our garbage than cows’ farts.
In 2012, the Globe and Mail reported that:
“We waste approximately 40 per cent of our food, or $27-billion worth, according to the Value Chain Management Centre, an independent think tank based in Guelph, Ont. And just over half (51 per cent) of that gets tossed from households…
Keep in mind, we’re not talking about the strawberries that have been sitting in your crisper so long they’ve got grey fuzz on them, or those tomatoes with the gross green splotches that stink. The report is talking about edible food that simply gets chucked. Why? Partly because we load our plates with giant portions we can never finish, partly because we throw out food based on best-before labels, even if we’re not reading them properly or the food is still good. But mostly we toss food because, unlike so many other places on earth, food is cheap to us.”
Sad but true. I was cleaning out our chest freezer today (I should be writing, dammit). It’s a legacy from my mother who passed away 16 years ago. She’d probably owned it for 20 years before that. The thing sounds like an untuned lawnmower. When I stand beside it, I have a vision of the hydro meter spinning like a roulette wheel.
It’s long past it’s best-before date but there was no special reason to ditch it until now. Our fridge is dying, alternating between warming its contents like a soothing blanket or freezing eggs until they’re solid as golf balls. I figure we might as well try to make a 2 for 1 deal and get a better price on two appliances. But that means I have to clean out the downstairs freezer by using up what’s in there.
I confess that I’m a keeper. But now that I have to spelunk the frigid reaches of this squat white box, I’m regretting that habit. The plastic containers with lids aren’t so bad. The aging day-old bread? Ditto. It’s the unlabelled ziploc bags (hey, my Sharpie ran out of ink) hoary with ice crystals that tax my imagination.
Okay, the contents are sort of red. Were those the strawberries I sweated to pick last June or the rhubarb I harvested when it was past its prime but still boilable? Is that fresh ground (back then) hamburger patties, pork chops or beef for stir fry? Stale-dated frozen mixed vegatables are really ugly (to smell and see) when you unbag them. And whoever had the notion that we should save too-ripe bananas to throw into smoothies was an idiot. No, I’m the idiot for following their advice. Half a dozen bags of nasty loking browned fruit bedecked with ice. Sniff. Ugh. Toss into compost.
Yup. Today I’m adding my 4.3 pounds to the methane furnace. Sorry, Mother Earth. There are just some things that cannot be salvaged with a spicy sauce.