6 Critical Problems of Water And Food Waste

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Water and food play a huge part in our lives because we need them to survive – they fuel our bodies and minds. So from an environmental, economic, and social standpoint, it’s imperative to protect them at all costs. 

However, the human relationship with these resources has become unstable, and it is now causing problems globally. On average, humans unknowingly waste up to 108 billion tons of food and 1 trillion gallons of water annually in the USA alone.

Now that we’re slowly seeing the harmful effects of wasting our resources, we should begin doing some damage control. So to shed light on this concern, let’s tackle the specific problems brought upon by water and food waste.

6 Problems Due To Water And Food Waste

  1. Limited Water Supply

Water is essential for public health, human settlement, and human development. However, the world is facing a concerning problem regarding the adequacy of our water resources to sustain human settlements. Although this is a bothering fact for average individuals, those who live in poor communities face more significant risks.

These individuals reside in areas where harmful bacteria thrive due to poor water supply and sanitation. But despite having contaminated water, they are still forced to use it because it’s all they have. Water conservation is so important to them that they must ration their limited resources – they must choose whether to use the remaining water for cooking, drinking, or washing.

  1. Pollution

According to the United Nations, over 80% of the Earth’s wastewater ultimately flows back into the environment by being cured or reused. And in some less developed places, the figure goes as high as 95%. Moreover, statistics also show that waste water treatment has risen by 2-4% every year and is expected to keep growing.

As a result, most of the world’s remaining water is now getting polluted. And because it takes longer to clean polluted water than for the pollution to occur, humans are forced to take more water from the ground – which also wastes excessive electricity and energy.

  1. Land Subsidence

Land subsidence occurs when the Earth’s rocks withdraw water, causing them to compact and fall in on themselves. This phenomenon leads to permanent subsidence and other related ground failures. It also reduces the aquifer system’s total storage capacity.

Although it’s a natural phenomenon, it is sped up by human intervention.

In a nutshell, the most significant cause of land subsidence is excessive groundwater pumping. So, why do humans need to pump groundwater from the Earth’s subsurface materials? It all stems from one thing – water and food waste. As humans continue to waste resources, they continuously seek alternative ways to get more of them, like groundwater pumping.

Some USA states like Texas, Florida, and California are forced to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to repair their lands only to take more groundwater. Which, again, leads to subsidence. It has become a cycle to the point where it’s now seen as “normal” – but it shouldn’t be because it’s a harmful process that may lead to detrimental results.

  1. Meat And Agriculture Industry

The meat and agriculture industry relies on various elements to produce high-quality food, with water being the most crucial factor. They require considerable water because millions of animals need to be fed, cleaned, and maintained.

For example, a milking cow consumes 40-50 gallons of water when accounting for hygiene and other essential consumption. Because of this, farms around the world use up to 70% of the world’s water resources, but at least 40% get lost in the environment due to inefficient irrigation systems, poor water management, and evaporation.

Moreover, the meat and agriculture industry is also responsible for enormous food waste, going as high as 1.2 billion tonnes of water waste per year. And as the world population continues to rise, the demand for livestock will also increase, leading to more water and food waste.

  1. Manufacturing Facilities

Although some facilities are now switching to alternative food packaging, the industry still has several kinks. It’s relatively normal to trim some edible portions like crusts, fat, skin, and peels from food. About 2 billion pounds of food go to waste during the food processing stage. This is due to various issues such as:

  • Overproduction
  • Technical problems
  • Product damage

And similar to farms, food processing facilities remain vulnerable to labor shortages and disruptions, ultimately resulting in enormous food waste. For example, at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, most meat processing businesses were forced to close as workers fell ill. This meant that all animals were slaughtered and discarded by the thousand.

  1. Climate Change

Food waste is often dumped in landfills, where they are left to rot. But as they decompose, they slowly release methane, a robust greenhouse gas 25 times stronger than carbon dioxide. This gas lingers around for 12 years as it continues to trap heat from the sun. It’s such a potent gas that it now contributes 20% of the global greenhouse gas emissions release.

Food waste’s contribution to climate change is astonishing upon factoring in the greenhouse gas emissions released by our natural resources. To counter this, a decent food waste management system should be implemented to stop at least 11% of our greenhouse gas emissions.

The Takeaway

With all the world problems that water and food waste bring, it’s crucial to act on it now. Because as the primary beneficiaries of these resources, we should do everything in our power to reduce wasting them. Some steps we could take are reducing food waste and supporting more eco-friendly organizations.

You may always browse through our page if you want to learn more about the environment. Remember: the more you know, the more you can prevent contributing to wasting our resources.