5 Ways to Prevent Food Waste
The Deal with Waste and 5 WAY Better Alternatives to Trashing Food
The topic of food waste has recently made a comeback. Here’s why this is so important: Between 30-40% of all food produced globally gets thrown out.
Let’s be clear. That means that 1/3 of all the food on this planet will share one horrid destiny: it will be taken to a landfill where it will sit with its plastic cousins and abandoned furniture-in-laws and produce methane, a potent greenhouse gas.
In the US alone that amount is equal to 730 football stadiums full of discarded food a year.
That land will be robbed of it’s vulnerable ecosystems, violated with toxic chemicals, pumped with precious water supplies (250 km3), and inherit a hefty carbon footprint from processing, storage, and transportation- only to produce food that will land in landfill.
Why is this an issue?
Malnutrition, climate change, and annual losses of $1 trillion are only some of the devastating consequences of this negligent system.
We’ve heard of the greenhouse effect; we’ve heard that methane is 25-30 times more efficient at messing up our planet than Co2. We’ve read that this summer was the hottest and driest on record, and that each approaching season somehow breaks new records. So
why am I repeating it?
Because everyday I watch my [educated, passionate, cosmopolitan] friends throw away perfectly reusable goods, as I stand there picturing their sad, toxic afterlife (the waste’s, not my friends). There lies the issue—the gravity of the situation is so mind-numbingly confounding that we don’t know what to do with it.
So here it is- Food Waste Solutions!
1. Go ugly! Most of the waste is happening at the commercial retail level when supermarkets think they can’t sell “ugly” fruits and vegetables. They demand ridiculously stringent “beauty” and “perfection” standards, causing farmers to toss 2.9 trillion pounds every year (National Geographic, 2016) of perfectly good produce. Encourage your favorite supermarket to accept ugly product. This movement is growing like wildfire with major supermarkets such as Intermarche (France), Asda (UK), Whole Foods (US) and Walmart catching on. And they’re doing it because people spoke out.
2. Commercial Foodshare: Food producers, manufacturers, and suppliers can link into food-share apps that connect them to local charities that donate uneaten goods. Check out Waste No Food (USA), Fareshare (UK), and Leket (Israel). As a consumer, encourage your favorite food providers to get involved. Don’t underestimate your power! After all, these food providers would go bankrupt if it weren’t for you.
3. Communal Plates: Spain’s solidarity refrigerator is an inspiring project that allows residents to share leftover food communally. Start your own local network like LeftoverSwap; or for a more global outlook take a Feedie: for every food picture you post from a participating restaurant a meal is financed for an orphan in South Africa!
4. Legislation: Several countries are outlawing wasteful commercial practices. France has prohibited major supermarkets from trashing unsold food (in a unanimous vote!) Instead of discarding the food, supermarkets are mandated to give it to charities, farms, or anaerobic digestion plants. The US has recently passed similar legislation in NY and New England. Start your own petition demanding your state/country follow suite like this one in the UK.
5. Give it back to nature: biogas, compost, worm bins, and livestock: Of course, food waste can happily be treated in your very own backyard! There is no such thing as waste in nature; so when we let nature process our “waste” she returns all those nutrients right back where they came from. While these methods vary in greenhouse gas reduction, they all give back to the earth with their byproducts and close the plant lifecycle. A basic compost pile in your backyard does the trick too, but you’ll have to be patient as piles can take months to produce compost. Other alternatives include backyard biogas generation. Check out Homebiogas for residential bio-digesters that convert organic waste to usable cooking gas. These units also produce several liters of liquid fertilizer a day, making them arguably more productive than composters.
So, there you have it. Easy, accessible, logical options to do good with your leftover food.
Let us know- What do you do with your leftovers?
Email [email protected] with your waste-saving tips and get featured on our blog!
Written by: Hilla Benzaken; Homebiogas Coordinator, special projects and communications