Environmental Impact of Food Waste and What You can do 🎥
The food we eat every day provides the nutrients we need to survive; to maintain and promote our wellbeing. These food components include macronutrients like protein, carbohydrate and fat as an energy resource. On the other hand micronutrients such as vitamins and minerals provide our body with a variety of critical functions to ensure our body operates as optimal as possible. Food is critical, food is precious. So - why do we waste so much of it? (See http://www.fao.org/save-food/resources/keyfindings/en/)
Food waste or food loss is food that is not eaten. (Food loss is “the decrease in edible food mass throughout the part of the supply chain that specifically leads to edible food for human consumption”, including the production, postharvest and processing stages. Food waste is food loss that occurs “at the end of the food chain”, i.e. during retail or final consumption) The causes of food waste or loss are numerous and occur at the stages of production, processing, retail and consumption. Global food loss and waste amount to between one-third and one-half of all food produced. Wikipedia
It is not just food that is wasted when edible items are thrown away. Consider all the resources required to bring food from the farm to our table; water for irrigation, land for planting, fuel for powering harvest and transport vehicles.
The United Nations estimates that one in nine people in the world do not have access to sufficient food to lead a healthy life. More people are reported to die from hunger every day than AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined. But at the same time, nearly one-third of the food that is produced in the world is lost or wasted due to one reason or the other. Food wastage, which includes both food loss and food waste, is not only morally irresponsible, but also causes huge economic losses as well as severe damage to the world around us, contributing largely to climate change. Furthermore nearly a quarter of our water supply in the form of uneaten food is wasted with over $172 billion in wasted water to grow and produce it for sale. When food is disposed of in a landfill it rots and becomes a significant source of methane, a potent greenhouse gas with 21 times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide.
For instance, Australians throw away $8 billion worth of edible food (up to 20 percent of our groceries) every year, often because we buy too much or are not sure what to do with leftovers. The food waste problem has existed ever since technology enabled us to produce more food than we actually need. Like many other environmental issues, it cannot be solved until every one of us gets involved.
However, while the bad news is that we have created a real problem, the good news is it is totally solvable and preventable with minimal efforts.
Supermarkets can help initiatives like food Happy Hour - see https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/08/business/food-waste-climate-change.html
But consumer action will play the biggest part in the solution: Why not try these 10 ways to reduce food waste (and save money).
Why not try these 10 ways to reduce food waste (and save money)
Take a shopping list
Buy less groceries more frequently
Cook only what you need
Store food better
Understand expiry dates
Make leftovers your ’friend’
Grow your own herbs
Freeze for later
Compost (or donate) the scraps
Preserve seasonal produce
For more information see under ‘Reference’ SBS Australia
An informative short film on the relationship between food waste and resource waste. With every bit of food that lands in the trash we’re not only wasting valuable nourishment. We’re also wasting manifold resources that were necessary to produce the food, such as water, farmland and energy, labor and investments.
A film production of SCHNITTSTELLE THURN GbR commissioned by UNEP and WWF Germany in collaboration with SIWI and FAO
🎥 (6:48) WASTE - The environmental cost of food waste UNEP (en), UN Expo January 2015
“According to the food waste pyramid, ensuring that food is eaten by people is the top priority. Failing that, the next best thing is to feed it to farm animals.”
— Tristram Stuart
Reset.org (viewed 26.07.2020)
SBS Australia, 2018 (viewed 26.07.2020)