The government estimates that Americans throw out about 25 percent of the food they prepare.

From Green Right Now Reports

If you really ponder how spoiled Americans are, you’ll eventually have to consider how much food they spoil.

It’s all around us, trash cans spilling over with fast food remnants; restaurants and cafeterias and household waste bins teeming in leftovers.

The government estimates that Americans throw out about 25 percent of the food they prepare, or about 31 billion tons of food every year, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

Sodexo food service, which operates cafeterias around the world wants us to think more about it.

The company, with food services in the U.S., the UK and France, has begun an online campaign to curb food waste that targets its college campus clients.

Picking up where mom and dad may have left off, STOPWASTINGFOOD.org attempts to show young adults that their eyes may be bigger than their mouths; that they too often take more than they can eat, or need to eat, and throw the rest out.

“They’re really not aware they’re doing it. We’re so used to having so much and (food) being so plentiful that if they throw away a half a hamburger they don’t see it as food waste, they just see it as I ate half a hamburger, that’s all,” says Peter Schoebel, executive chef at George Mason University in Virginia.

Sodexo’s media surge against food waste includes a video featuring Schoebel and a web presentation that tries to drive the message home.

A picture of a juicy orange, for instance, is shown with this text:

IT TAKES ALMOST 60 DAYS
FOR AN ORANGE TO RIPEN,
24 HOURS TO HARVEST AND GET IT ON CAMPUS,
1 MINUTE TO PICK IT UP FOR BREAKFAST,
AND 2 SECONDS TO TOSS
IT INTO THE TRASH.

Aside from squandering the energy that goes into growing, transporting and preparing food, wasteful ways with food have an impact on greenhouse gases. Food that’s sent to the landfill instead of being composted emits methane, a gas that’s 21 times more potent than carbon dioxide, which contributes to global warming.

In 2008, Sodexo employed another tactic to reduce water and waste: It asked college campuses to go tray less. Those that did discovered that they not only saved water, but reduced food waste.