Americans Will Waste More Than 120 Million Pounds of Food On The Fourth Of July

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Americans Will Waste More Than 120 Million Pounds of Food On The Fourth Of July

July 1, 2024

The Fourth of July is more than just a celebration of the birth of our country. It’s a time to gather for cookouts full of fireworks, family, and fun. But there’s one more thing these festivities are known for—food waste. In fact, according to new estimates from ReFED, Americans are expected to waste more than 120 million pounds of food on Independence Day this year, a staggering amount that has serious economic and environmental consequences.

For many people, food waste can seem invisible—we waste a little bit of this and a little bit of that and don’t realize how quickly it adds up. On a national level, the food that will be wasted on the Fourth of July will amount to more than $12 million in lost value, as well as lost resources. All of this wasted food will contribute more than 500,000 metric tons of CO2e— the same as the annual emissions of more than 122,000 cars. Nearly 33 million gallons of water went into producing this food, an amount that could sustain all of New York City’s residents for a month. And embedded in this wasted food are squandered land, water, and energy resources needed to meet future food demands.

Beyond these economic and environmental impacts, this amount of wasted food could provide two meals for each of the 44.2 million people experiencing food insecurity in the United States—a statistic that’s particularly sobering given that this food waste is generated on a day of national fellowship. And interestingly, this wasteful behavior also starkly contrasts with the virtues of thrift and resourcefulness preached by our founding fathers, who had a deeper understanding of the value of food due to the greater difficulty in producing it during their lifetimes.

But by planning ahead, encouraging your guests to bring take-home containers, and creatively utilizing leftovers, we can celebrate this Fourth of July in a way that honors the legacy of our country while also helping preserve its natural resources for future generations to come.


What can you do? Here are some practical tips on how to minimize food waste this Fourth of July—and every day.

ReFED is a national nonprofit working to end food loss and waste across the food system by advancing data-driven solutions to the problem. ReFED leverages data and insights to highlight supply chain inefficiencies and economic opportunities; mobilizes and connects people to take targeted action; and catalyzes capital to spur innovation and scale high-impact initiatives. ReFED’s goal is a sustainable, resilient, and inclusive food system that optimizes environmental resources, minimizes climate impacts, and makes the best use of the food we grow.

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