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Davis, California

Friday, July 19, 2024

Fight food waste on campus

The surprisingly large impact of food waste and what you can do about it


By EMILIE BROWN — emrbrown@ucdavis.edu


With Earth Day just behind us, it’s the perfect time to examine the impact you have on your environment. It’s no secret that college campuses have food waste. From dining halls to dorm rooms, students are notorious for tossing out perfectly good food without a second thought. But what many don’t realize is the impact that this waste has on our planet.

Food waste is a major issue that plagues modern society. According to the EPA, it’s estimated that a third of all food produced goes to waste, totaling up to a staggering 133 billion pounds in the U.S. each year. To put that into perspective, that’s equivalent to about 450,000 Statues of Liberty or 15.8 Great Pyramids of Giza. This excess waste has a serious environmental impact.

When food waste ends up in landfills, it produces methane, a greenhouse gas that’s 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide. Food waste is responsible for a whopping 18% of U.S. methane emissions and up to 8% of global greenhouse gas emissions, making it a major contributor to climate change. Eliminating food waste would be the emissions equivalent to taking one out of every four cars off the road.

That being said, we are lucky enough to be on one of the most sustainable campuses in the world. However, we are still producing food waste, and it still has an impact. The good news is that there are plenty of easy ways you can make a difference when it comes to food waste.


  1. Plan. Before heading out to the grocery store, take a few minutes to plan out your meals and make a list of what you need. This will help you avoid buying unnecessary items that could go to waste.
  2. Take what you need. The next time you’re at the dining hall, don’t overload your plate. Instead, start with only the food you know you are going to eat. Then go back for more if you’re still hungry.
  3. Save leftovers. Feeling forced to finish all the food on your plate is awful, so instead, take advantage of leftovers. Research the best ways to keep your meal fresh and reheat it later.
  4. Compost. Have you seen all those compost bins around campus? Take advantage of them. Composting is a great way to turn food waste into something very useful. If you’re about to throw out some food waste, look to see if there’s a compost bin instead of a trash can.
  5. Tell others. Inform others about the dangerous consequences of food waste and the easy ways to reduce it. Encourage your friends and classmates to do their part.


Food waste is a serious issue that affects us all, but there are plenty of easy ways to make a difference. The next time you’re tempted to toss out that half-eaten sandwich or extra slice of pizza, remember that every little morsel counts.


Written by: Emilie Brown — emrbrown@ucdavis.edu


Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed by individual columnists belong to the columnists alone and do not necessarily indicate the views and opinions held by The California Aggie.