Food plays a crucial role in climate change and environmental challenges.
While we enjoy food, the way we currently produce food is not working well, for neither the people nor the planet. Each year, millions of people do not have access to enough affordable or nutritious food, and at the same time, 1.3 billion tons of food are wasted every year, which accounts for 8% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions.
Consequently, it is important to reflect on our current-day food consumption habits; not only in means of what, how, and where we get our food, but also on how to avoid, and ultimately reduce, global rates of food waste.
Food waste is not merely an issue for individuals or individual households; the true responsibility lies with large corporations involved in the food industry. As a result, to adequately reflect on how we must promote and initiate change in (1) food production, (2) transport, and, (3) farming, we must advocate for structural change in the make-up of our global food sector.
At the same time, there are some changes that we can make at a household level, to reduce our carbon footprint and strive for more sustainable choices when it comes to food and food consumption.
Here are some suggestions of what you can do, besides advocating for systemic change:
Eat Seasonal Fruit and Vegetables
Try to eat seasonally and to buy food from local producers. Local food is nutritious and delicious and clocks up fewer ‘air miles’ in transportation. Buying food locally reduces our greenhouse emissions and has the other benefit of supporting food producers in your locality, keeping your local economy and community diverse.
Add More Vegetarian Days to Your Calendar
The production of meat is one of the main drivers of carbon emissions. Try to cut down your meat consumption and add more vegetarian or vegan days to your calendar.
For example, you could introduce meat-free Mondays or participate in the Veganuary (Vegan January, https://veganuary.com).
Always Eat Your Leftovers!
Don’t throw away your leftovers – store them in the fridge, warm them up, and/or turn them into a new meal for the next day.
(See for example: suggestions on how to turn your leftovers into tasty snacks).
Use/Eat All of Your Food
Try to use up all parts of your meals – especially your vegetables! Be creative, there are always new and exciting ways to use the odd tops and tails of your food, rather than just throw them away.
For example, roast your pumpkin seeds. Bake the cauliflower leaves. Or, why not turn the carrot top leaves into a pesto with olive oil, garlic, parmesan?
For more inspiration check Love Food Hate Waste: Completing 101, Completing Hacks and Tips, and finally, don’t be too quick to throw away the vegetables that appear to have gone past their best. If they don’t look fresh, just pop them into a glass or bowl of water – and after 30 minutes, they will be rehydrated and reading for consumption once again!
There will always be parts of our food that simply cannot be used or eaten, and ultimately, will become waste. However, there are ways that we can reuse and recycle them!
(1) You can compost your scrap your kitchen/garden scrap – Either by using public collection services or by starting your own onsite compost area. Whether you live with direct access to green areas or not, it’s easy to compost your food waste. There are an array of easy and cost-effective methods to follow, such as worm composting, or merely using your brown bin.
Alternatively, to compost food waste, you can (2) donate your waste for animal feed, e.g., for farms or zoos. To note, it is wise to first check the local regulations on what food waste can be donated for animals, in order to protect our furry friends!
Finally, in order to (3) recycle and reuse food packaging material, you should remember to bring your own food containers and reusable shopping bags to shop package-free!
Better Storing & Preserving Food
Optimise the way you store your food by making sure your fridge is at the right temperature (it should be below 5°C), and that you store each item in the right area in your fridge.
Try different ways to preserve food by freezing, drying, canning, fermenting, pickling – these are all easy ways to preserve food, and they can allow your food to last up to a year.
You might find that it is easy to preserve foods, and add a new and unique taste to your ingredients!
Food Planning & Recipes
It is best to plan and make meals ahead of schedule. In order to do so, check your cupboards regularly and write a list of things you need to buy before getting your groceries! This way, you can easily prevent excess food waste, buy not buying too much, and also, save money on food you don’t need!
As well, don’t forget to check for ‘best before dates’ and ‘use-by dates.’ Reminder: A ‘best before date’ is a guide to indicate when the product is at its best – meaning eating food products after this date is still safe. However, eating your food past its ‘use-by date’ is not recommended. (Click here for some more information on some of the amazing community work we do at the moment!).
Spread The Word – Engage Politically!!
Spread the word!! Talk to anyone and everyone in your family, circles of friends, communities, or workplace about what it means to reduce your food waste and why it is so important. One could even start themed weeks or workshops in collaboration with your local community [and organisation, such as GAP!] to raise awareness for food waste? Additionally, you can easily deepen your support for local initiatives by signing petitions and becoming a part of an environmentalist group to engage in this action on a larger scale!
Fundamentally, The Core Reasons to ‘Take Action’ Against Food & Waste Are:
- Reduces methane emissions.
- Saves you money.
- Saves resources (human, land, animal, fossil fuels).
- Shows respect and care for food, family, the planet, and society.
- Helps to bring people and communities together.