Every holiday season can be a chance to rediscover traditional dishes and experiment with ambitious new recipes, and in many parts of the world is a time of feasting.
But our consumption habits have a huge impact on the planet. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) estimates that one-third of food produced for human consumption is lost or wasted globally, which is equivalent to about 1.3 billion tonnes per year.
In fact, when we waste food, we should not only consider the product left on our plates or rotting in our fridges. We should also think about all the resources that were put into its growing, packing and transportation.
Did you know that about 50 litres of water are necessary to produce a single orange and 13 litres of water to grow 1 tomato? Unfortunately, between harvest and retail, about 14% of all food produced globally is lost.
This is why waste food has a tremendous environmental impact, in addition to the social and financial cost.
Food waste is also a marker of inequality. While 2 billion people on the planet go hungry or undernourished another 2 billion are overweight or obese.
Here are some more key figures highlighted by FAO to understand the issue:
- Food wastage’s carbon footprint is estimated at 3.3 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent of GHG released into the atmosphere per year.
- The total volume of water used each year to produce food that is lost or wasted (250km3) is equivalent to three times the volume of Lake Geneva.
- 1.4 billion hectares of land – 28 percent of the world’s agricultural area – is used annually to produce food that is lost or wasted.
What can you do?
Here are some small changes you can easily adopt in daily life.
- Be creative and use your leftovers. You can make croutons out of your stale bread or your left over veggies into a broth! Many recipes are available on internet for turning your leftover into the next day’s meals.
- Compost alone or with your neighbours. You will be making the most of your food to grow more and enrich the soil around you!
- Connect to local platforms where surplus food can be donated or offered at reduced prices.
- Don’t judge oddly shaped fruits and vegetables, use them for smoothies or desserts.
- Freeze your leftovers (and store them properly to avoid freezer burn).
- Organize your fridge and cabinet so that you know your supply – keep all perishable items on one shelf so you can easily see what you have.
- Plan your grocery shopping and set up your week meals accordingly. Be realistic and buy only the food you need.
- Share tips to prevent food waste with family, friends and colleagues.
- Shop at local markets and support local food producers.
- Read food labelling to be informed of food safety and food quality.
- Try to cut down on your intake of meat, as it takes a lot of water and land compared to vegetables.
Building a sustainable world starts with small steps and limiting your food waste is an easy and affordable way to do it!
Want to know more? Here are some interesting resources:
- Food wastage footprint
- Global Food Waste
- Global Food Waste and its Environmental Impact
- International day of awareness of Food Loss and Waste
- Technical Platform on the Measurement and Reduction of Food Loss and Waste
- Three smart ways innovation is helping reduce food loss and waste
- What To Compost and How To Do It