On 28th April 2019 it is International Reduce Food Waste Day. Many people will be wondering what food-waste has to do with Climate Change. The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation claims that approximately a third of the edible parts of food produced for human consumption get lost or wasted globally, about 1.3 billion tonnes per year. Food waste generates 3.3 billion tonnes of greenhouse gases and uses up to 1.4 billion hectares of land. The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) reports that globally 35% of global fish catches are wasted.
When food goes to landfill, it breaks down and emits methane – a Greenhouse Gas around 22 times more powerful than CO2. In addition to this, all the resources that went into producing this food have also been wasted: irrigation, fertiliser, pesticides, labour, petrol to transport it to the supermarket, energy to keep it fresh, your petrol to take it home and your money to buy the food. This makes pretty scary reading.
It is very easy to assume that source of food waste comes from supermarkets in the UK not selling perfect-looking food or out-of-date food being thrown out at supermarket level. However, a recent study by the World Resources Institute and FAO has shown that in Europe, whilst food wastage at production level is relatively low compared to other continents, most of food wastage (46%) is found at the consumption level – i.e. Us.
This food waste might come from buying too much food at the supermarket, letting it go out of date and throwing it out, it might be from throwing away leftovers, it might be from not composting vegetable scraps. Wherever it may be, we are all complicit in the problem. However, there are ways that we can drastically reduce this unnecessary and plant-damaging wastage:
- Plan your meals – buy only what food you need for these meals.
- Portion control – when making a meal, serve it into defined portions and store extra portions in the fridge of freezer.
- Save your leftovers – don’t scrape them into the bin. Leftovers can be eaten the next day or made into creative ‘Tapas-Style’ dinners at the end of the week.
- Compost your fruit and vegetable scraps – if you don’t have space or the budget to get a composter, find a neighbour or a friend who does have one. Store your scraps in the fridge and give them over to your friend when you see them.
- Make vegetable/meat scrap stock – see my earlier blog posts for ideas on this.
- Feed your garden with your coffee grounds – Roses particularly love coffee grounds, but not all plants do, so do your own research.
- Feed your scraps to pigs – pigs eat absolutely everything, but not many people have pigs. Why not get in touch with your local farmer and see if they would like to feed their livestock with your food waste. (The UN estimates that if farmers globally fed their livestock on food waste and on agricultural by-products, enough grain would be liberated to feed an extra 3 billion people)
On 28th April, why not challenge yourself, your family and friends to go a full day without wasting a single scrap of food. You’ll be surprised how easy it is by using these helpful tips and you’ll find that you’ll be able to do it year-round. Not only will be be saving yourself money, you’ll also be contributing to lessening your personal environmental footprint.
As always they seem like small changes, but collectively everyone making these crucial small changes add up to a massive positive impact on the environment!