Thanksgiving Dinner Will Result in 305 Million Pounds of Food Waste in the U.S.


Thanksgiving Dinner Will Result in 305 Million Pounds of Food Waste in the U.S.

November 16, 2022

Americans will waste more than 305 million pounds of food this Thanksgiving. It is difficult to imagine an amount that large, but picture around one pound of food being wasted by every person in the country. That is a serious problem that comes with some very damaging effects – and with inflation on the rise, the effect on people’s wallets will be felt more than usual. 

A dinner for ten people will cost approximately seven more dollars than in 2021, and nine more dollars than in 2020. That means that this year approximately $15 in food waste will be generated by each dinner for ten people, about $5 more than in 2021. Fifteen dollars per ten people may not sound too expensive, but added up that wasted food will cost nearly $450 million, $40 million more than a year ago. 

More importantly, that food could go a long way towards feeding the 38.3 M food insecure people in the U.S. In fact, it would amount to about six and one half meals for each one of them. 

In addition to social and economical consequences, that amount of food waste also comes with a hefty impact on the environment. Production of this food generates greenhouse gas emissions of more than 1,100,000 MTCO2e or the equivalent of driving 169,000 cars for one full year. It also has a water footprint of 104,000,000,000 gallons, which is the same amount of water used by everyone in New York City for three and a half months.

While reflecting and giving thanks this year, let's remember how valuable food really is, how many resources go into making it, and how it impacts the lives of people who experience not having enough of it. Making the most of all you have can make a big difference. If you are curious about some strategies to waste less food at home, see below for some helpful tips.

ReFED is a national nonprofit working to end food loss and waste across the food system by advancing data-driven solutions to the problem. ReFED leverages data and insights to highlight supply chain inefficiencies and economic opportunities; mobilizes and connects people to take targeted action; and catalyzes capital to spur innovation and scale high-impact initiatives. ReFED’s goal is a sustainable, resilient, and inclusive food system that optimizes environmental resources, minimizes climate impacts, and makes the best use of the food we grow.

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