The average American family of four wastes between $1,350 and $2,275 a year in food. Much of that ends up in the kitchen trash can: uneaten leftovers, milk past the expiration date and vegetables that go bad.
In the U.S., all that waste adds up to 90 billion pounds of food a year, and the planet is paying a staggeringly high price for it.
"It's not something many people think about, but it takes a huge amount of resources to get food to our plates," says Dana Gunders, a scientist with the Natural Resources Defense Council.
Uneaten food means that the water and land used to grow the food are wasted, too.
"That's just a terrible use of those resources," she says. About 24% of all water used to grow crops goes toward food that will be wasted, whether on the farm or in the kitchen, according to the NRDC. The land used to grow this wasted food is roughly the size of Mexico.
Rotting food in landfills creates methane, which is 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide in its contributions to global warming, she says.