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Business Insider: Americans can turn food and energy waste into big savings

Of the 13 ways Business Insider claims Americans could learn to “throw away” less money, two efforts in particular — cutting back on $165 billion in wasted food and $146 billion in wasted energy — are supported by innovations made possible by chemistry.

Saving on Food

Plastic packaging helps protect food from the farm, to the grocery shelf, to the kitchen table — and beyond, thanks to resealable plastic containers.

Since the amount of energy that goes into creating a plastic package is far less than the energy required to grow and process foods, using a tiny bit of energy to make a package that ends up saving a lot more energy (in preventing food waste), just makes sense.

Another key benefit of plastic packaging is that it is lighter than alternatives, allowing food growers and manufacturers to ship much more product per package. This helps to reduce transportation fuel and, in doing so, results in less waste.

Saving on Energy

Business Insider estimates Americans spend $443 billion in annual home energy costs, a number that could be significantly reduced, the writers say, if we all took some simple steps to improve energy efficiency. For example…

  • U.S. households unnecessarily spend $9 billion each year on inefficient lighting. Swapping out old light bulbs with high-efficiency compact fluorescent (CFL) bulbs, which use 70 percent less energy than incandescent bulbs, can help cut back on monthly energy costs.
  • Choosing high-efficiency appliances like new ENERGY STAR-qualified refrigerators – made possible by the products of chemistry – can save enough energy to light an average house for nearly four months.
  • Cold water detergent, also made possible by chemistry, can help save households $40 a year on average by enabling consumers to wash their clothes in cold rather than hot water.
  • Changing our air filters every three months and using a programmable thermostat can help homeowners save more than $180 per year on average.

To see how everyday Americans conserve energy in their daily lives, and how chemistry makes many of their efforts possible, check out our #Chemistry2Energy photo contest. Be sure to let us know what you are doing to save energy, and you could become our grand-prize winner!

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