When it comes to food waste, finding some good hard numbers can be difficult. It feels like the most available information is always that about how 40% of food is thrown away each year, that people throw out around 25% of the food they bring home from the grocery store, or that 6% of our global greenhouse gasses are produced by food waste. While these are great numbers to know, they’re often impersonal and don’t give us an idea of how else our decisions might make an impact or the damage equivalent. This is where ReFED comes into play.
ReFED is a nonprofit that looks to create better solutions with the use of data. Not only do they offer a ton of different suggestions for reducing food waste in a number of sectors, but they also recently introduce the ReFED Insights Engine to their website. This is an amazing new tool that synthesizes a large amount of data from over 50 datasets to give more accurate and relatively up-to-date information regarding food waste in the US.
The variety of tools that the site provides is everything a food researcher could ask for. Not only does it have a general tool for insights into food waste and the related sectors/impacts, but it has solutions that they suggest as well as companies that can help to accomplish those solutions. ReFED has created a tool for anyone who is wondering about the environmental impacts of food and what they can do about it.
One of the final tools that their site gives is an impact calculator. This lets you choose the sector, type of food waste, and the food’s final destination. With all of these inputs, you get outputs related to the greenhouse gas (GHG) footprint, water footprint, and how many meals were recovered from the efforts. This is great because it gives quantifiable information this is easily digestible. For example, if a family throws out 1lb of food at home, that is equivalent to burning 3lbs of coal and taking 6 showers. This really gives great perspective into the impact of our decisions when it comes to food.
Having tools like this are essential to creating the change we need to see in this decade. By having access to this kind of data/information companies like Produce Mate who have environmental initiatives can make data-based decisions to try and attack the problem at its core. With this tool change becomes easier and less daunting, making it more manageable to all.
Whether it’s just playing around with some of the tools or reading through the solutions and taking action with local businesses, checking out the Insights Engine is definitely worth your time.