Just eat it…

Food wastage is having a severe global impact, not only economically but environmentally, as the energy used in excess production is wasted unnecessarily. With the Earth at such a pivotal era in its lifetime and expected to grow, change must happen immediately and quickly. Around one third of all food produced is lost or wasted, equating to 1.3 billion tonnes [1]. This dilemma relates to the second sustainable development goal devised by the United Nations hoped to be achieved by 2030, “Zero hunger” [2]. We view food as a must-have necessity but when it comes to throwing it away, we don’t think twice. As consumers in a developed world grow greedier, the constant demand from consumers pushes the food production into a mass production of our desired needs.

As consumers ourselves, we are all guilty of throwing away food that may be deemed past its sell-by date, despite it being perfectly suitable to eat. However, what most households don’t realise is that you are not just throwing away the item of produce solely but also the time, energy, packaging, labour and manufacturing used to create that product, consequently depleting natural resources. On average UK households throw away 22% of their weekly shop equating to £700 each year [3]. All waste produced are dumped in landfills where they are left to decompose. Landfills are the second largest source of methane emissions generated by humans, all of which is a result of the mistreatment of household waste [4]. As climate change worsens, due to the continuous exposure to methane gases, the World bank believe that crop yields will fall by 25%, going against our goal to reduce hunger. It is estimated that by 2050, 50% more food is required to be produced to feed the 9 billion population [5]. The earth cannot sustain such an extreme increase in food production. The problem being that food is wasted unnecessarily which can be used to feed the population instead of producing more food and shrinking our resources.

A lot of produce that are harvested on farms don’t make it to supermarkets because they are lost or do not meet the correct requirements, resulting in huge loses of perfectly edible produce. Only recently has our society began to acknowledge the effects of food waste. In 2008, the European Union called for regulations to be dropped regarding the shape and size of produce, allowing for wonky produce to be sold in supermarkets [6], thereby reducing waste and also making produce more affordable.

Reduction in food waste is both important within a household and through the supply chain. Although there may be changes in the supply chain, we need to make a difference by making changes in our own households. It is easy to point fingers at huge supermarkets and dismiss the waste us consumers produce ourselves. To make a global impact we must first begin at our doorstep.

Alex Macmillen



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