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Throwing away food isn't just wasteful — it's hurting our planet in a big way.

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Ad Council - Food Waste

The next time you go grocery shopping, throw about 40% of your food in the trash on your way out.

If that sounds a little ridiculous, you're right — it is. But it also puts the issue of food waste into perspective. In the U.S., that's how much of our food goes uneaten and most of it is sent straight to the landfill.

When you're tossing those wilted veggies into the trash at the end of the week, you may as well be throwing dollar bills in there as well. And that's just the tip of the iceberg lettuce (sorry, I had to). Not only does food waste affect your bottom line — it has an enormous environmental impact, too.


And now that summer is here, it’s easy to see where waste can happen. The warmer months are filled with plenty of fresh, seasonal fruits and vegetables — watermelon, arugula, peaches, zucchini — and there's no shortage of potlucks or lazy evenings on the patio to enjoy your spoils. Though, for many of us, it literally spoils.

[rebelmouse-image 19477514 dam="1" original_size="3705x2492" caption="Photo by Cecilia Par / Unsplash." expand=1]Photo by Cecilia Par / Unsplash.

But the good news is that a weekend barbecue is the perfect opportunity to get a little eco-friendlier and start cutting back on all that food waste.

Here are 23 reasons you should get started today.  

1. You're probably wasting a lot more food than you think.

It might not seem like you're wasting all that much, but it adds up. Think about that time you bought too many tomatoes and didn't have time to eat them all before they started to wrinkle. Or that time you stacked your plate up a little too high at the neighborhood get-together then tossed your paper plate of food in the trash when you were full. Or what about that time you didn't like how bruised that apple looked. If you took all that food over the course of a year and threw it on a scale, it'd weigh in at about 300 pounds.

2. Interestingly enough, though, we didn't always waste so much.

Food waste has increased pretty drastically in the last few decades. Since 1974, food waste has increased 50% in the U.S.

Many experts think cheaper food and higher cosmetic standards are the culprits. We're able to get more food, so we buy a lot more than we probably need and value it a little less.  We're also way pickier about what it looks like (#Foodie), and while aesthetics are great for Instagram, be sure you’re using “imperfect” produce, too.

[rebelmouse-image 19477515 dam="1" original_size="4592x3064" caption="Photo by Eaters Collective/Unsplash." expand=1]Photo by Eaters Collective/Unsplash.

3. With waste on the rise, it's not too surprising that the U.S. actually leads the world in food waste.

A whopping 40% of food in the U.S. is wasted from farm to fork. This is the highest of any country — well — ever.

4. And consumers are actually the largest source of that food waste.

In our homes, we waste more than grocery stores, restaurants, and any other part of the supply chain. In fact, we account for nearly half of all food that ends up wasted. Yikes. Not to mention, if you added up the food we waste at restaurants or ignored at the store because it looked “a little funny,” the amount of waste we’re responsible for only increases from there.

5. Of all the food we throw out, animal products are the main foods we waste.

Around a third of the animal products Americans are buying go straight to the landfill. Broken down, 11.5% of food wasted is meat, poultry, and fish; 19% is dairy products like cheese and milk; and 2% is eggs.

6. All this waste isn't great news for landfills.

In fact, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council, food accounts for 21% of what you'll find in a landfill. If you compare that with the other stuff that goes into landfills, food waste is the top contributor.

7. Food waste creates a pollution problem, too.

The amount of climate change pollution that wasted food generates per year is equivalent to 37 million cars. Yes, million. That‘s a hefty price for the planet to pay.

8. Rotting food also accounts for 25% of methane emissions, which is even more harmful than CO2.

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but it warms the planet 86 times as much as CO2.

9. And when you pitch your food, you're also wasting freshwater.

In fact, 25% of all freshwater use in the U.S. produces food that goes uneaten.

The amount of water wasted can be hard to picture — but it’s staggering. Wasted food uses more fresh water than Texas, California, and Ohio combined.

[rebelmouse-image 19477516 dam="1" original_size="4000x2667" caption="Photo by Dylan de Jonge/Unsplash." expand=1]Photo by Dylan de Jonge/Unsplash.

10. All that meat we're throwing away is one of the biggest culprits of all that wasted water.

Meat requires the most water usage of any food to produce. For a single pound of beef to make its way to your table, it's the equivalent of running your shower for over six hours (or, put another way, 12,000 gallons of water).

Maybe at that next barbecue, you might consider black bean burgers or grilled veggies instead — both of which require significantly less water to produce — or at least be mindful of how many burgers you throw on the grill.

11. Don't forget the fertilizer that helps your food grow.

18% of fertilizer winds up down the drain when food is wasted, which adds up to be about 3.9 billion pounds of nutrients.

12. Food scraps could be a better fertilizer anyway.

Composting food scraps is a safer alternative that fertilizes our soil while still being safe for human and planetary health, which is a missed opportunity to say the least.

13. There's an economic price to pay for all that food we're not eating as well.

That cost is about $218 billion. Put another way, a four-person family loses something like $1,800 a year on wasted food.

[rebelmouse-image 19477517 dam="1" original_size="2560x1700" caption="Photo by Sven Scheuermeier/Unsplash." expand=1]Photo by Sven Scheuermeier/Unsplash.

14. In fact, cutting back on food waste could save the average person about $375 a year.

You might actually be able to pay off some of that student loan, make a donation to a cause you care about, or you could just buy yourself something nice.

15. The good news is that public opinions around food waste are shifting.

A 2016 public opinion poll by Ad Council revealed that 74% of respondents felt the issue of food waste was important to them.

[rebelmouse-image 19477518 dam="1" original_size="4240x2832" caption="Photo by Max Delsid/Unsplash." expand=1]Photo by Max Delsid/Unsplash.

16. It's about time — because the impact of food waste is only increasing.

According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, the global population in 2050 is expected to demand 1.5 to 2 times more food than we needed in 2005. If waste levels remain the same, this will only intensify the environmental impact.

17. But if we could reduce the amount of food we're wasting, that impact won't be so drastic.

To meet the growing demands of our rising population, wasting less food could help reduce the need to grow more. By making better use of what we already have, we can lessen the effects of overpopulation.

18. And as it turns out, reducing waste isn't complicated. In fact, what you're throwing away doesn't even belong in the trash.

If you take a closer look at what you're throwing away, you'll start to notice that much of what constitutes going "bad" is cosmetic or easily fixed. While you might think wilted or softened veggies and bruised fruits aren’t any good, it doesn't actually mean they've gone bad. Learning the difference between “sell by” and “use by” dates can also be helpful in reducing that waste. And when in doubt, composting is always a better option.

[rebelmouse-image 19477519 dam="1" original_size="3000x1987" caption="Photo by Kelly Sikkema/Unsplash." expand=1]Photo by Kelly Sikkema/Unsplash.

19. It also helps to know how to properly store your food.

Many reasons we throw away food could be eliminated entirely by storing food properly. Avocados and pears, for example, will last a lot longer if you put them in the refrigerator after they're ripe, and — fun fact — carrots keep a lot longer if they're submerged in water (who knew?). And if Alexa is a part of your household, there’s a skill that can answer your food storage questions.

20. A little creativity with cooking goes a long way.

Wilted veggies? Throw them in a stir-fry. Mushy leftover fruit salad? Sounds like an awesome smoothie. If you aren't sure where to start, there are online recipe resources that make this a snap, and apps like Handpick can help you come up with the perfect recipe with whatever ingredients you have laying around.

21. Your freezer is a mighty weapon against food waste, too.

Making smarter use of our freezers can be another way to reduce food waste, yet most people underutilize them. Freezing leftovers in meal-size portions can be the perfect lunch for a rainy day.

[rebelmouse-image 19477520 dam="1" original_size="5760x3840" caption="Photo by Jason Leung/Unsplash." expand=1]Photo by Jason Leung/Unsplash.

22. When cooking bigger meals, plan ahead and do the math.

If you aren't sure exactly how much food to make, no problem! When throwing that summer potluck or pool party, tools like The Guest-imator can help you calculate exactly how much food to prepare to ensure none of it ends up wasted.

23. And remember, nobody's perfect.

Reducing food waste isn't about absolute perfection. That moldy piece of bread you threw away yesterday doesn't mean you've failed the planet — because, ew, no one should eat that, seriously (though while you’re at it, consider composting it instead!).

Taking it a step at a time is more than enough — because it's those small steps, when we all take them together, that make the greatest difference.

Pop Culture

Here’s a paycheck for a McDonald’s worker. And here's my jaw dropping to the floor.

So we've all heard the numbers, but what does that mean in reality? Here's one year's wages — yes, *full-time* wages. Woo.

Making a little over 10,000 for a yearly salary.


I've written tons of things about minimum wage, backed up by fact-checkers and economists and scholarly studies. All of them point to raising the minimum wage as a solution to lifting people out of poverty and getting folks off of public assistance. It's slowly happening, and there's much more to be done.

But when it comes right down to it, where the rubber meets the road is what it means for everyday workers who have to live with those wages. I honestly don't know how they do it.


Ask yourself: Could I live on this small of a full-time paycheck? I know what my answer is.

(And note that the minimum wage in many parts of the county is STILL $7.25, so it would be even less than this).

paychecks, McDonalds, corporate power, broken system

One year of work at McDonalds grossed this worker $13,811.18.

assets.rebelmouse.io

This story was written by Brandon Weber and was originally appeared on 02.26.15

Pop Culture

What is 'Generation Jones'? The unique qualities of the not-quite-Gen-X-baby-boomers.

This "microgeneration" had a different upbringing than their fellow boomers.

Generation Jones includes Michelle Obama, George Clooney, Kamala Harris, Keanu Reeves and more.

We hear a lot about the major generation categories—boomers, Gen X, millennials, Gen Z and the up-and-coming Gen Alpha. But there are folks who don't quite fit into those boxes. These in-betweeners, sometimes called "cuspers," are members of microgenerations that straddle two of the biggies.

"Xennial" is the nickname for those who fall on the cusp of Gen X and millennial, but there's also a lesser-known microgeneration that straddles Gen X and baby boomers. The folks born from 1954 to 1965 are known as Generation Jones, and they've been thrust into the spotlight as people try to figure out what generation to consider 59-year-old Vice President Kamala Harris.

Like President Obama before her, Harris is a Gen Jonesernot exactly a classic baby boomer but not quite Gen X. Born in October 1964, Harris falls just a few months shy of official Gen X territory. But what exactly differentiates Gen Jones from the boomers and Gen Xers that flank it?


"Generation Jones" was coined by writer, television producer and social commentator Jonathan Pontell to describe the decade of Americans who grew up in the '60s and '70s. As Pontell wrote of Gen Jonesers in Politico:

"We fill the space between Woodstock and Lollapalooza, between the Paris student riots and the anti-globalisation protests, and between Dylan going electric and Nirvana going unplugged. Jonesers have a unique identity separate from Boomers and GenXers. An avalanche of attitudinal and behavioural data corroborates this distinction."

Pontell describes Jonesers as "practical idealists" who were "forged in the fires of social upheaval while too young to play a part." They are the younger siblings of the boomer civil rights and anti-war activists who grew up witnessing and being moved by the passion of those movements but being met with a fatigued culture by the time they themselves came of age. Sometimes, they're described as the cool older siblings of Gen X. Unlike their older boomer counterparts, most Jonesers were not raised by WWII veteran fathers and were too young to be drafted into Vietnam, leaving them in between on military experience.

Gen Jones gets its name from the competitive "keeping up with the Joneses" spirit that spawned during their populous birth years, but also from the term "jonesin'," meaning an intense craving, that they coined—a drug reference but also a reflection of the yearning to make a difference that their "unrequited idealism" left them with. According to Pontell, their competitiveness and identity as a "generation aching to act" may make Jonesers particularly effective leaders:

"What makes us Jonesers also makes us uniquely positioned to bring about a new era in international affairs. Our practical idealism was created by witnessing the often unrealistic idealism of the 1960s. And we weren’t engaged in that era’s ideological battles; we were children playing with toys while boomers argued over issues. Our non-ideological pragmatism allows us to resolve intra-boomer skirmishes and to bridge that volatile Boomer-GenXer divide. We can lead."

Time will tell whether the United States will end up with another Generation Jones leader, but with President Biden withdrawing his candidacy, it has now become a distinct possibility.

Of note in discussions over Kamala Harris's generational status is the fact that generations aren't just calculated by birth year but by a person's cultural reality. Some have made the argument that Harris is culturally more Gen X than boomer, though there doesn't seem to be any record of her claiming any particular generation as her own. However, a swath of Gen Z has staked their own claim on her as "brat"—a term singer Charli XCX thrust into the political arena with a post on X that read "kamala IS brat." That may be nonsensical to most older folks, but for Gen Z, it's a glowing endorsement from one of the top Gen Z musicians of the moment.

Democracy

This Map Reveals The True Value Of $100 In Each State

Your purchasing power can swing by 30% from state to state.

Image by Tax Foundation.

Map represents the value of 100 dollars.


As the cost of living in large cities continues to rise, more and more people are realizing that the value of a dollar in the United States is a very relative concept. For decades, cost of living indices have sought to address and benchmark the inconsistencies in what money will buy, but they are often so specific as to prevent a holistic picture or the ability to "browse" the data based on geographic location.

The Tax Foundation addressed many of these shortcomings using the most recent (2015) Bureau of Economic Analysis data to provide a familiar map of the United States overlaid with the relative value of what $100 is "worth" in each state. Granted, going state-by-state still introduces a fair amount of "smoothing" into the process — $100 will go farther in Los Angeles than in Fresno, for instance — but it does provide insight into where the value lies.


The map may not subvert one's intuitive assumptions, but it nonetheless quantities and presents the cost of living by geography in a brilliantly simple way. For instance, if you're looking for a beach lifestyle but don't want to pay California prices, try Florida, which is about as close to "average" — in terms of purchasing power, anyway — as any state in the Union. If you happen to find yourself in a "Brewster's Millions"-type situation, head to Hawaii, D.C., or New York. You'll burn through your money in no time.

income, money, economics, national average

The Relative Value of $100 in a state.

Image by Tax Foundation.

If you're quite fond of your cash and would prefer to keep it, get to Mississippi, which boasts a 16.1% premium on your cash from the national average.

The Tax Foundation notes that if you're using this map for a practical purpose, bear in mind that incomes also tend to rise in similar fashion, so one could safely assume that wages in these states are roughly inverse to the purchasing power $100 represents.


This article originally appeared on 08.17.17

Representative photos by Canva and Evelyn Giggles|Flickr

Mom hilariously demands to know secret to clean kids' rooms.

Kids' bedrooms can be a source of contention in some households. Some kids are just naturally more tidy than others while some are more like little tornados leaving debris wherever they go refusing to clean it up. Parents can be on different wavelengths when it comes to how clean a child's room should be.

You've got the parents who are huge proponents of simply closing the door. If you can't see the mess, then the mess doesn't exist. You've got some parents that do a weekly or monthly clean themselves in an attempt to save their sanity. Then you've got the ones that have daily room cleans as part of their child's routine, but not everyone can or wants to be at that level.

Ariel B. recently posted a video asking parents to explain how they get their children to clean their rooms as she pans to her daughters' rooms that are in complete disarray.


The exhausted mom starts off by explaining that motherhood is ghetto. In fact she surmises that the "hood" people are talking about when they say the hood is ghetto is indeed motherhood before asking how other parents are doing it.

"My daughters' rooms are so nasty, everything you are ever looking for in your house is in them rooms," Ariel says.

This frustration started when her kids couldn't find their field trip shirts for summer camp, which prompted her to go in their rooms to investigate. She then shows everyone the room where the shirt was lost, exclaiming, "You couldn't find Jesus in this room. You couldn't find common sense, humility, any decent soul in this room."


The room was strewn with clothes, toys and other things. Commenters not only pointed out the mannequin head looking distressed under the bed but related hard to what the mom was saying and supported her rant.

"The mannequin head laying under table looking stressed. Her face looks like it’s saying 'help me,'" one person laughs.

"I'm closing the door. I have an almost 3 & 6 year old and I'm 37 weeks today…I close the door. It’s no way y'all messed the room up like this and expect me to clean it. So, when they get back from Florida, they can clean it themselves," another says.

"You're cracking me up! I can definitely relate to finding wrappers. I said 23 times don't eat in your room. I'm not cleaning it," another writes.

"That last part gets me crackin up every time I watch this. I watch this on the daily to remind myself it’s not just my kid," one mom admits.

But if you watch closely as Ariel pans the messy bedrooms you'll notice there's something important missing from the bed frames...a mattress. One person inquired about the important missing item and the response is not only comical but makes so much sense.

"I flipped the mattress looking for the orange shirt after I stepped on a Barbie jeep and almost broke my neck," Ariel explains before following up in another comment saying the mattress is in the hallway—it likely made it much easier to clean under the bed. And while the mom did receive some advice in the comments, it's unclear if she will heed any.

Bill Gates in conversation with The Times of India

Bill Gates sure is strict on how his children use the very technology he helped bring to the masses.

In a recent interview with the Mirror, the tech mogul said his children were not allowed to own their own cellphone until the age of 14. "We often set a time after which there is no screen time, and in their case that helps them get to sleep at a reasonable hour," he said. Gates added that the children are not allowed to have cellphones at the table, but are allowed to use them for homework or studying.


The Gates children, now 20, 17 and 14, are all above the minimum age requirement to own a phone, but they are still banned from having any Apple products in the house—thanks to Gates' longtime rivalry with Apple founder Steve Jobs.

smartphones, families, responsible parenting, social media

Bill Gates tasting recycled water.

Image from media.giphy.com.

While the parenting choice may seem harsh, the Gates may be onto something with delaying childhood smartphone ownership. According to the 2016 "Kids & Tech: The Evolution of Today's Digital Natives"report, the average age that a child gets their first smartphone is now 10.3 years.

"I think that age is going to trend even younger, because parents are getting tired of handing their smartphones to their kids," Stacy DeBroff, chief executive of Influence Central, told The New York Times.

James P. Steyer, chief executive of Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization that reviews content and products for families, additionally told the Times that he too has one strict rule for his children when it comes to cellphones: They get one when they start high school and only when they've proven they have restraint. "No two kids are the same, and there's no magic number," he said. "A kid's age is not as important as his or her own responsibility or maturity level."

PBS Parents also provided a list of questions parents should answer before giving their child their first phone. Check out the entire list below:

  • How independent are your kids?
  • Do your children "need" to be in touch for safety reasons—or social ones?
  • How responsible are they?
  • Can they get behind the concept of limits for minutes talked and apps downloaded?
  • Can they be trusted not to text during class, disturb others with their conversations, and to use the text, photo, and video functions responsibly (and not to embarrass or harass others)?
  • Do they really need a smartphone that is also their music device, a portable movie and game player, and portal to the internet?
  • Do they need something that gives their location information to their friends—and maybe some strangers, too—as some of the new apps allow?
  • And do you want to add all the expenses of new data plans? (Try keeping your temper when they announce that their new smartphone got dropped in the toilet...)


This article originally appeared on 05.01.17