The winter holidays are right around the corner. Soon, many Americans will gather around the table with family and friends to give thanks for abundant blessings and freedoms as they indulge in a surfeit of delicious traditional foods. Leftovers will last for days.
In December, people of different faiths and traditions will celebrate religious or cultural holidays – enjoying more festive and plentiful food and the added indulgence of gift-giving. This season can leave many of us feeling stuffed and uncomfortable – in more ways than one.
As you plan for this "season of excess," consider a few eye-opening facts:
-- Over Halloween, Americans spent $490 million on costumes for pets, $3.2 billion on costumes for people, and $2.6 billion on candy treats. Billions more were spent on decorations.
-- In November and December, Americans are expected to spend $730 billion on holiday buying of gifts (often unneeded or unwanted), food, greeting cards and wrapping paper.
-- The 2.65 billion Christmas cards sent each year in the United States could fill a football field 10 stories high. Nearly all of them become trash -- and few are recyclable.
-- Up to 40% of the food produced in the United States ($160 billion worth) is never eaten. The carbon footprint of that discarded food is 3.3 billion tons.
In the midst of this over-indulgence, many in the United States are in need:
-- Ten% of employed adults -- a total of nearly 15 million people -- live in homes that can't always afford enough food.
-- One in six children lives in a food-insecure household, meaning that the supply of food is inconsistent.