There have been a lot of conversations about ecology and environmental action in 2019. These matters are indeed urgent for all of us, and conversations and actions surrounding the environment should become even more trendy in 2020. One of the most important parts of this issues is waste. There are, obviously, several types of waste, but this article will focus on food waste and food packaging waste as this is an element of waste that everyone can strive to improve.
Food waste is across the globe is a burning issue. In the UK alone over 10 millions tons of food is thrown away. Firstly it is an ethical issue – we already have enough food being produced to eradicate hunger in the world, but it is the methods of allocation which prevents us from feeding everyone effectively.
Secondly it is of course an environmental problem. Each uneaten or discarded meal costs our lovely planet 2.5kg of CO2. Moreover, rotting food in landfills produces not only CO2 but also methane which has even worse impact on our atmosphere.
Food packaging is also part of the problem. In the supermarkets, the majority of food items are wrapped in plastics, even when it is not really necessary.
Fortunately, we all have the ability to help combating the waste problem little by little. Too Good To Go, company which reallocates unwanted but consumable items to the places where it will be eaten, recommends several actions to take to reduce food waste (they also have an app just for food waste).
Firstly one should know that ‘display until’ and ‘best before’ dates are about optimum taste and appearance, but it does not mean that past these dates, the product should not be eaten anymore. In fact, it is still okay to use it. However, ‘use by’ dates should be followed strictly.
Secondly, freezing your meals before ‘use by’ date is a great way of saving your food, time, and money.
Thirdly, use leftovers in creative recipes found online or just from your own experimental cooking. Finally, it is essential to practise good planning when it comes to shopping and meal prep because up to a third of our weekly shop is often being thrown, with salads taking the majority of the waste.
So perhaps it is a good idea to plan and track what happens to your food shop to understand whether meal prepping
helps to reduce waste or not. If you’re regularly throwing foods away because you simply don’t use them in time, buy less of that ingredient or cut it out altogether.
It could be harder to reduce plastics food wrappings, but there is a way to do this too. Going to package free shops in Edinburgh such as The Refillery and New Leaf Coop or to the package-free corner of the EUSA shop in David Hume Tower basement might be more time consuming than going to a supermarket next door, but it pays off if you consider the amount of plastic you can prevent from going into the landfill.
Anxiety about environmental problems could be eased if we contribute to fighting them. I personally, believe that we will become more conscious in the coming decade and will be able to tackle, if not solve, the environmental problems we are facing now, if each of us fulfils our small role, the nature of food shopping and the quantity of waste is 100% achievable.
Image: via Pxhere