A few years ago, a hotel in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, was audited to see how much food waste it produced. Eighty percent of the hotel’s trash could have been diverted away from the landfill and into a compost bin — a fact that shocked the hotel’s owners, who prided themselves on their green principles.Nearly half of food served at hotels is wasted. In fact, food waste accounts for an astonishing 28 percent of total waste at the average hotel. Click To Tweet
That impacts more than just the hotel’s bottom line — it affects the environment. But it’s not just hotels. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations says that a third of the food in the world gets wasted by rotting during transport or being thrown out.
Food makes up nearly 20 percent of the waste in landfills. As it rots, it produces methane, a gas that has 21 times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide. Because of that, the EPA has made it a priority to cut food waste in half by 2030. Reducing food waste will help the United States address climate change, as 20 percent of total U.S. methane emissions come from landfills, according to the EPA.
Hotels have many avenues they can take to reduce food waste, but travellers have a part to play as well.
Have you ever said that your eyes were bigger than your stomach? Portion sizes these days are much bigger than they were three decades ago, according to a report by Sustainable America, and are on average eight times more than what the USDA recommends. Even if you choose to take food home with you, research has shown that nearly 40 percent of that food never gets eaten. Fifty-five percent of leftover food doesn’t even get taken home, and around 17 percent of food at the average restaurant meal doesn’t get eaten.
Take it home
Bringing a lunch box with you — it cuts down on plastics and other trash. If a restaurant doesn’t offer smaller portions, pack half of it ahead of time and eat the leftovers for lunch the next day. If your hotel doesn’t offer a small fridge, you can place a couple of bags of ice on it overnight.
Related reading: 5 ways to make your travels plastic free
If you don’t want to deal with the hassle of leftovers, share your dinner with a travelling buddy! Some restaurants charge for an extra plate, so you may not save a whole lot of money, but it’s less food that gets scrapped.
Select a hotel that prides itself on reducing food waste
Most hotels have taken some sort of environmentally conscious steps forward in order to save money, but food waste is often one of the last things to change. Hotels don’t always recognize the financial incentives behind reducing food waste, according to Champions 12.3, a coalition dedicated to sustainability.
A study by the Rockefeller Foundation found that the Marriott International is one example of a large chain of hotels committed to reducing food waste. The Hilton and Hyatt chains have taken steps in that direction as well. If you’re not sure if your chosen hotel cares about food waste, just ask them about their policies.The EPA has a goal of reducing food waste in half by the year 2030. Click To Tweet
Individuals, businesses and organizations can all play a part and take active steps to care for the environment. The EPA has a list of ways everyone can manage their own food waste, whether at home, work or travelling.