The abundance of the western world has also become the cause of a real first-world problem: food waste. Around 30%, that is, 230 billion USD worth of food worldwide ends up in the trash every year, which is particularly alarming given that people in many regions of the world find it difficult to obtain sufficient quantities and quality of food. But how do so much edible groceries end up in the bin, and what can we do about it? Read our blog article to find out.
Food waste – A bigger problem than you think
Food waste is often understood as getting rid of food that we have at home, but the issue is much more complex than that: food waste is present at all levels of the food supply chain. This includes food that is produced but not sold, leftovers from restaurants, by-products from various food production processes and food that is expired, close to its expiration date or is imperfect, and is simply discarded by the store.
It is easy to see, therefore, that the problem is multifaceted and of great environmental, social, and moral concern. Statistics show that 828 million people worldwide go hungry and 49 million are on the verge of starvation. Thus, it is not difficult to see how food that is thrown away could be put to excellent use to help these people.
The huge environmental impact of food waste, which is much more serious that one would think, must also be mentioned. Food thrown away at home is responsible for 6% of CO2 emissions worldwide, which is three times more than what aviation produces. Waste also means that GHGs generated during food production are released into the atmosphere in vain, since the food produced is not consumed, but rather thrown away or incinerated, polluting the air and the soil further.
How to solve the problem? Think ahead and be creative!
While food companies bear a huge responsibility, we as individuals can also do a lot to alleviate the problem. For example, you should plan what you cook and buy only the ingredients you need. If you're not sure what staple foods you have in your pantry, take a 'shelfie' before you go to the shops, so you can look at the photo whenever you need to. When shopping, try to choose groceries that are close to their expiry date, or that may be in the discount section because of their shape, size or damaged packaging. This way you cannot only save money, but also make use of products that are likely to be thrown away.
If you have leftovers in the fridge after cooking, try to use them creatively, even making new dishes with the help of the many great ideas online. For example, you can bake exquisite oat biscuits using leftover oatmeal, create a delicious smoothie from fruit that's wilting in the fridge, or use vegetables to make a spicy curry or soup. It's also worth putting leftovers in the freezer, so that on a busy day you only have to take them out and enjoy.
There are also many great initiatives to help stop food waste, while also serving a good cause. Food banks worldwide, for example, cooperate with supermarkets to collect food that would otherwise be thrown away and distribute it to people in need. There are also mobile apps with the help of which you can buy packages of food from different shops and restaurants at a much lower price. These contain perishable goods left over at the end of the day and can usually be collected towards the end of opening hours.
So, reducing food waste is not just a matter of conscience. By producing less food, GHG emissions and waste are also reduced. And who wouldn't want to live on a clean planet, where everyone has access to the right quantity and quality of food?