Shame, Arizona, shame! A new report has revealed that the Grand Canyon State is America's No. 1 offender when it comes to wasting food. And with Thanksgiving and Christmas just around the corner it looks like Arizonans will be throwing out more food than ever before.
Thanksgiving might be the tastiest holiday, but it's also the waste-iest, according to this study. About 30–40% of the national food supply goes to waste each year, and 200 million pounds of that waste comes from Thanksgiving turkeys alone.
Some states contribute more to that total than others.
LawnStarter collected data on the 50 states to find 2022’s States That Waste the Most Food, factoring in how much food each state wastes, how much it repurposes, and what measures it has in place to reduce food loss.
Arizona is our No. 1 state that wastes the most food for a cornucopia of reasons. Among the 50 states, the Grand Canyon State registered the highest share of food wasted and the lowest share recycled. It also ranked No. 3 for the lowest share of food donated to people in need.
Some Arizonans are doing their best to minimize food loss, though. The state has more organizations providing food waste solutions than over half the country.
Imperial Western Products (IWP) diverts the most food waste from landfills in Arizona. The company saves about 1.23 million tons of food waste annually by recycling and reusing materials from agricultural sites, restaurants, and bakeries.
Local tip: This year after Thanksgiving dinner, follow IWP’s lead and find a way to recycle your green bean casserole (Arizona’s favorite side dish) into leftover meals, or donate it instead of adding on to Arizona’s already grand food waste problem.
Other Desert Offender:
Las Vegas is famous for its buffets, but where does all that leftover food go? Most of it ends up in the nearby Apex Regional Landfill, one of the largest landfills in the world. No wonder Nevada ranked No. 4 overall among States That Waste the Most Food.
However, many resorts on the Strip are working toward a less wasteful future. They're using leftover food to make compost, donating it to food banks, and even sending it off to feed pigs.
Why and How to Reduce Food Waste
Why do some states make such an effort to reduce their food waste? Here’s one reason: Food waste in landfills produces about 3.3 billion tons of carbon dioxide every year. Carbon dioxide is the main greenhouse gas responsible for global warming.
If saving the planet isn’t enough of a reason to reduce your food waste, how about saving money? The average American spends around $3.62 per day on food that never gets eaten. That adds up to more than $100 per month and more than $1,300 per year.
With just one year of food waste savings, you could fill your car with gas 20 or 30 times (depending on where you live) — or spend 1.5 weeks at Disney World.
Whether you’re an eco-warrior or a thrifty spender, here are a few tips to help you reduce your personal food waste:
- Plan ahead. Before hitting the grocery store, think about how many meals you’ll need to make at home for the week. Plan different dishes that use some of the same ingredients to minimize waste.
- Buy frozen or canned. Fruits and vegetables make up about 30% of food waste in the U.S. because they spoil so quickly. Frozen or canned fruits and veggies are just as nutritious as fresh produce, and they last much longer!
- Freeze perishable items. Bread, meat, fruits, vegetables, and other perishables often go bad before you have a chance to eat them. If you know you won’t finish them in the next few days, store perishable items in the freezer for a longer shelf life. Wash, dry, and slice or chop fruits and veggies before freezing them.
- Eat leftovers. Whether you’re at home or at a restaurant, save any food you don’t eat for later. If you don’t want to eat the same thing again, look up recipes online for ways to transform your leftovers into something new.
- Compost food waste. Even when you give it your best effort, you’ll end up with some food scraps. Instead of sending them off to a landfill, start a compost pile in your backyard. Composting is a 2-for-1 deal: You recycle your food waste, and you can use the compost for your garden or potted plants. (Make sure to check composting rules beforehand.)
Check out LawnStarter's full ranking and analysis here.