Writing for Foreign Policy, John Norris explores this question: why does hunger still kill “more people every year than HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined” when one-third of the food produced for human consumption is wasted?
In the developing world, Norris writes, actual consumers waste little food:
Instead, much more of the food waste in the developing world comes further upstream in the production process.
Crops are inefficiently farmed with outdated tools, and often harvested early because farmers are under economic and climactic duress. To get meat, fruits, vegetables and fish to market in the developing world often means navigating lousy roads, using warehouses without proper refrigeration, facing greater vulnerability to pests, and any number of other factors that drive up spoilage and losses. A gallon of milk doesn’t last nearly as long when it is transported in a can that ends up sitting in the hot sun under a banana leaf.
It’s a different picture in the developed world: Read More »
The journalist Edward Humes is also fascinated with trash. His new book Garbology: Our Dirty Love Affair with Trash is about the 102 tons of garbage the average American produces in a lifetime. Humes writes about what’s in our trash, how different communities deal with it, and how we might could think about trash differently: “Waste is the one environmental and economic harm that ordinary working Americans have the power to change — and prosper in the process.”
New York City’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority is trying a counterintuitive approach to cleaning up the subway by removing trash cans from some of its dirtiest stations. According to the New York Times, a subway stop in Queens and another in Greenwich Village have been entirely without trashcans for the last two weeks:
The idea is to reduce the load on the authority’s overtaxed garbage crew, which is struggling to complete its daily rounds of clearing out 40 tons of trash from the system.
But it also offers a novel experiment: will New Yorkers stop throwing things away in the subway if there is no place to put them?
Results have so far been mixed. While one bin-less station appeared relatively clean to a Times reporter, the experiment is obviously having some knock-on effects. Read More »
Our recent podcast about the economics of trash featured a story about an American grad student living in Taipei. He discovered that that city had an unusual trash-collection style: instead of putting your trash out at a curb or in a dumpster, you’d have to bring your trash out at a certain hour to deposit it directly in a municipal trash truck, which might be playing Beethoven to announce its arrival. Read More »
This week’s Freakonomics Radio podcast (you can download/subscribe at iTunes, get the RSS feed or listen live via the link in box at right) is about one of our favorite topics: trash. We explore the economics thereof, and the emotions too. Read More »
What would motivate you to throw away less trash? Perhaps a healthy dose of environmental guilt would do the trick. Or would it take another kind of green — as in cold, hard cash — to force your hand? In the latest Freakonomics Radio Marketplace segment, host Kai Ryssdal talks with Stephen Dubner about how […] Read More »