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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Cats are notoriously weird. Everyone who's had cats knows that they each have their own unique quirks, idiosyncrasies, preferences, habits, and flat-out WTFness.

But even those of us who have experience with bizarre cat behavior are blown away by the antics this "cat dad" is able to get away with.

Kareem and Fifi are the cat parents of Chase, Skye, and Millie—literally the most chill kitties ever. They share their family life on TikTok as @dontstopmeowing, and their videos have been viewed millions of times. When you see them, you'll understand why.

Take Chase's spa days, for example. It may seem unreal at first, but watch what happens when Fifi tries to take away his cucumber slices.

When she puts them back on his eyes? WHAT?! What cat would let you put them on once, much less get mad when you take them off?

This cat. Chase is living his best life.

But apparently, it's not just Chase. Skye and Millie have also joined in "spaw day." How on earth does one couple end up with three hilariously malleable cats?

Oh, and if you think they must have been sedated or something, look at how wide awake they are during bath time. That's right, bath time. Most cats hate water, but apparently, these three couldn't care less. How?

They'll literally do anything. The Don't Stop Meowing channel is filled with videos like this. Cats wearing glasses. Cats wearing hats. Cats driving cars. It's unbelievable yet highly watchable entertainment.

If you're worried that Kareem gets all the love and Fifi constantly gets the shaft, that seems to be a bit for show. Look at Chase and Fifi's conversation about her leaving town for a business trip:

The whole channel is worth checking out. Ever seen a cat being carried in a baby carrier at the grocery store? A cat buckled into a car seat? Three cats sitting through storytime? It's all there. (Just a heads up: A few of the videos have explicit language, so parents might want to do a preview before watching with little ones.) You can follow the couple and their cats on all their social media channels, including Instagram and YouTube if TikTok isn't your thing, here.

If you weren't a cat person before, these videos might change your mind. Fair warning, however: Getting a cat because you want them to do things like this would be a mistake. Cats do what they want to do, and no one can predict what weird traits they will have. Even if you raise them from kittenhood, they're still unpredictable and weird.

And honestly, we wouldn't have them any other way.

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We're redefining what normal means in these uncertain times, and although this is different for all of us, love continues to transform us for the better.

Love is what united Marie-Claire and David Archbold, who met while taking a photography class. "We went into the darkroom to see what developed," they joke—and after a decade of marriage, they know firsthand the deep commitment and connection romantic love requires.

All photos courtesy of Marie-Claire and David Archbold

However, their relationship became even sweeter when they adopted James: a little boy with a huge heart.

In the United States alone, there are roughly 122,000 children awaiting adoption according to the latest report from the U.S Department of Health and Human Services. While the goal is always for a child to be parented by and stay with their biological family, that is not always a possibility. This is where adoption offers hope—not only does it create new families, it gives birth parents an avenue through which to see their child flourish when they are not able to parent. For the right families, it's a beautiful thing.

The Archbolds knew early on that adoption was an option for them. David has three daughters from a previous marriage, but knowing their family was not yet complete, the couple embarked on a two-year journey to find their match. When the adoption agency called and told them about James, they were elated. From the moment they met him, the Archbolds knew he was meant to be part of their family. David locked eyes with the brown-eyed baby and they stared at each other in quiet wonder for such a long time that the whole room fell silent. "He still looks at me like that," said David.

The connection was mutual and instantaneous—love at first sight. The Archbolds knew that James was meant to be a part of their family. However, they faced significant challenges requiring an even deeper level of commitment due to James' medical condition.

James was born with congenital hyperinsulinism, a rare condition that causes his body to overproduce insulin, and within 2 months of his birth, he had to have surgery to remove 90% of his pancreas. There was a steep learning curve for the Archbolds, but they were already in love, and knew they were committed to the ongoing care that'd be required of bringing James into their lives. After lots of research and encouragement from James' medical team, they finally brought their son home.

Today, three-year-old James is thriving, filled with infectious joy that bubbles over and touches every person who comes in contact with him. "Part of love is when people recognize that they need to be with each other," said his adoptive grandfather. And because the Archbolds opted for an open adoption, there are even more people to love and support James as he grows.

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You know that feeling you get when you walk into a classroom and see someone else's stuff on your desk?

OK, sure, there are no assigned seats, but you've been sitting at the same desk since the first day and everyone knows it.

So why does the guy who sits next to you put his phone, his book, his charger, his lunch, and his laptop in the space that's rightfully yours? It's annoying!

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There have been many iconic dance routines throughout film history, but how many have the honor being called "the greatest" by Fred Astaire himself?

Fayard and Harold Nicholas, known collectively as the Nicholas Brothers, were arguably the best at what they did during their heyday. Their coordinated tap routines are legendary, not only because they were great dancers, but because of their incredible ability to jump into the air and land in the splits. Repeatedly. From impressive heights.

Their most famous routine comes from the movie "Stormy Weather." As Cab Calloway sings "Jumpin' Jive," the Nicholas Brothers make the entire set their dance floor, hopping and tapping from podium to podium amongst the musicians, dancing up and down stairs and across the top of a piano.

But what makes this scene extra impressive is that they performed it without rehearsing it first and it was filmed in one take—no fancy editing room tricks to bring it all together. This fact was confirmed in a conversation with the brothers in a Chicago Tribune article in 1997, when they were both in their 70s:

"Would you believe that was one of the easiest things we ever did?" Harold told the paper.

"Did you know that we never even rehearsed that number?" added Fayard.

"When it came time to do that part, (choreographer) Nick Castle said: 'Just do it. Don`t rehearse it, just do it.' And so we did it—in one little take. And then he said: 'That's it—we can't do it any better than that.'"

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