A TikToker shared an exasperating 32-second video that showed the ramifications of a Columbia, South Carolina, store’s cooler problem.
@ceceliapate So this happened today at our local Walmart… #walmart #gotmilk #wastedfood #fyp #waste ♬ Oh No – Kreepa
Management posted signs on the cooler doors that stated the products were “no longer safe for consumption.”
One commenter pointed out that other Walmarts in the area seemed to be having the same problem, stating, “It’s crazy.”
That’s what this example of food waste boils down to, as goods must be safe before they can be donated. If chilled or frozen beverages or eats warm to above 0 degrees Fahrenheit, they no longer meet the standard of acceptable storage.
Still, other companies, including Trader Joe’s, have found solutions to such problems. The chain, founded in Pasadena, California, in 1967, gave away items worth thousands of dollars to customers when the refrigeration in a Baton Rouge, Louisiana, store failed.
It also says 100% of its unsold edible fare is donated to local food recovery organizations and community-based non-profit partners, resulting in more than 85 million pounds of food and $411 million worth of contributions in 2022.
This is the ideal solution, and the same one a North Little Rock, Arkansas, Kroger put in practice in June. Over two days, the Arkansas Foodbank recovered 76,833 pounds of food, or more than 60,000 meals, after storms caused a power outage.
These are isolated examples of a nationwide problem, though. As much as 33% of all food — amounting to 80 million tons — is wasted in the United States every year, according to ReFED. That means 149 billion meals’ worth of foods are incinerated, landfilled, trashed, or left to rot.
“And the impacts of surplus food and food waste on our climate and environment are enormous, since food that is never eaten still requires resources to grow, harvest, transport, cool, cook or otherwise prepare — even when it ends up being disposed of,” ReFED states. “Around the world, food waste has been recognized as an urgent issue requiring immediate action — the United Nations, U.S. Government, European Parliament, global business coalitions such as the Consumer Goods Forum, and more have all set goals to cut food loss and waste in half by 2025 or 2030.”
To avoid food waste at home, the World Wildlife Fund advises planning ahead and buying only what you need; using your freezer; getting creative with leftovers; blending, baking, or boiling with overripe produce; and educating others about the problem, which could prevent 7.4 million tons of planet-warming gas pollution.
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