Waste not want not – especially food.
I’ve always hated seeing any sort of waste. This is probably because my parents were brought up during the Second World War and at that time, avoiding waste was a big issue and making the most of every scrap of meat, vegetables and fish was very important to the war effort.
A report that was recently released has revealed that between thirty and fifty percent of the consumer edibles produced globally is wasted. Can you imagine?
Up to half the goods manufactured or grown for human consumption produced in the world is simply thrown away. How on earth can this be?
Some of the problems occur in developing countries where distribution and storage is a problem. But in the western world we contribute hugely to the problem too. Much of this is caused by regulations that demand that the goods we see at the grocery store are up to certain standards.
The report also blames supermarket sales promotions – such as ‘buy one get one free’ – because they encourage consumers to buy more products than they need.But we can’t lay the blame on others – the report says that up to half the groceries bought by consumers in Europe and the USA is thrown away.
Don’t waste it
During wartime, governments ran huge campaigns to encourage the population to fight every type of waste. This wasn’t just during WW2, there were extensive campaigns in the First World War too.That’s a hundred years ago. Why are we still wasting so much today?
Here’s a crazy scenario:
Visiting Martian: I see that many people on your planet don’t have enough to eat and that people are dying of starvation.
Earthling: Sadly, this is true. We try to help though. We give money to charity and … well … you know …
Visiting Martian: And I see further that in what you earthlings call the Western World, half the produce you buy for your home consumption is thrown away.
Earthling: Well, no. I mean, surely not? That would be ridiculous …
Visiting Martian: Quite.
Earthling: That would be crazy … you see …
Visiting Martian: Crazy yes. Thank you for letting me interview you for my report. I now know how to classify Planet Earth.
Earthing: You’re welcome, I’m always willing to have a chat with passing Martians. But …
Visiting Martian: (Speaks into Martian cell phone) Xseta my dear, are you there? Please mark Planet Earth as uncivilized and please put dinner on, I’ll be back shortly.
Here’s another scenario
Imagine that you’re in line at the grocery store. The man in front of you pays for his purchases – about $100.
As you watch, he takes a hundred dollar bill from his wallet and a lighter from his pocket. As you watch, he sets light to the hundred dollar bill and you watch appalled as it turns to ashes.
Everyone around you stops what they are doing and watches the man burning his money. The grocery store girl quickly calls for a supervisor. “Please come to resister number three – there’s a man burning money, a crazy man…”
But is he crazy? You see, that’s what we’re doing every time we shop for our meals and cooking ingredients – wasting as much money as we spend.And it’s not just money.
The experts who created the recent report are concerned about the enormous amount of water that was wasted irrigating crops that would end up as garbage. Think too about the fuel and the resources used in getting those items to the supermarket. Half of that was completely wasted.
Think about the emissions created, the packaging required, the man-hours spent … yes, I think the Martian was right, don’t you?
What to do about this problem
Nobody really this needs advice on how to prevent waste. We all know that we should store perishables correctly, make the best use of leftovers, shop wisely and all those good things.
But I believe that part of our problem is that we’re often not really aware of the things we’re wasting.This is why I have decided to keep a waste journal for the next few weeks.
Every time I throw something away, I’m going to make a note of it. Then, I’ll look at my list and ask myself:
- Why did I need to throw that away?
- Why didn’t I use that up?
- What could I have done to prevent throwing this away?
- Did I buy too much of this?
I hope that this experiment will work and make me more aware of the purchases I’ve made that I’m wasting.I might have a strange sort of logic but I’m thinking about that fictitious man burning a hundred dollar bill in the supermarket.
If we throw away half the edible goods we buy, doesn’t that mean that by avoiding wasting it we can cut our grocery bill in half?
This problem is harmful to the entire planet.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
November 19, 2015
This is a subject very close to my heart – I hate and despise waste of any kind and try to avoid it like the plague! It’s also something Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall is campaigning about on the BBC. A third of the food produced in the UK is wasted! It’s appalling… Don’t know if you’ve seen it but here’s his campaign page. https://wastenotuk.com/