Food waste can seem harmless when we throw away the leftovers that are no longer good for consumption. However, we forget that the rest of the world may be doing the same, on much larger scales. The result of that? Tons and tons of food waste. The counter below shows food waste and food loss in real time in the world. Shocking, right?
First of all, a distinction must be made between food waste and food loss. Food spoiled before harvest, or when stored, packaged or transported, is known as food loss. This can be caused by the weather, by insects, among others. Food that is good for consumption but not eaten or thrown away is called food waste. This brings disadvantages at various levels: world hunger, negative impact on the environment and unfavorable economic impact. On the other hand, reducing food waste has several benefits, but 3 of them must be highlighted:
Saves the planet: avoiding waste reduces your carbon footprint and methane emissions from landfills;
Saves resources: less waste not only avoids pollution, but also the resources involved in the growing, manufacturing, transporting, and selling;
Saves money: If you buy only the amount of food you need, you save money. If you don't throw food away, you don't waste the money you spent on buying it.
In Portugal food waste represents 17% of the annual food production, which is approximately 1 million tonnes. In light of this reality, it is necessary to adopt policies and behaviors that prevent the impacts of this problem on several levels. In addition, the commitment of all stakeholders, including us consumers, is central to achieving the short-term goal of a significant reduction of food waste. As the change begins in our homes, we leave below some easy tips that you need to know and that make all the difference if they are implemented on a daily basis.
Curiosity: Did you know that the energy of the entire food chain process generates more than 3.3 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide? If food waste was a country, it would be the world's third largest emitter of greenhouse gases, behind the U.S. and China. Ref
Solving Food Waste: Tips to Reduce Waste
1. Plan your meals ahead and buy only what you need. Make your shopping list based on how many meals you’ll eat at home.
2. Give priority to foods that spoil quickly, such as fresh vegetables and fruits, and foods that are expiring. It helps a lot if we organize the refrigerator according to the dates on the label. For example, yogurts that end early are at the front of the shelf, while those that end later are at the back.
3. Freeze surplus fruits and vegetables. Especially abundant seasonal products. Freezing excess bread is also a good option.
4. Create a composting. If you have a garden, you can try this tip! Domestic composting is an ecological way of dealing with kitchen and garden waste. In addition to not wasting, you produce a compost that can be used as an excellent soil improver.
These are just a few simple actions that you can do to make a difference, but like these there are many others. If you want to know more about food waste in larger dimensions - such as in canteens - or about new inventions and practices to reduce this problem, you can hear from several key opinion leaders at the EAT Circular workshop that will take place in July!
EAT Circular project is a project funded by EIT Climate-KIC and the EIT Food that aims to develop training sessions to promote best practices in reducing food waste. The workshops will be organized in parallel in Portugal, Italy, Spain and Slovenia and will be taught by local partners. We will address topics such as circular economy; excess and waste of food; the relationship between nutrition, environmental impact and waste; short supply chains; innovations to reduce waste and other examples of good practice! Know more here.
Also, stay tuned to our social networks and keep up with the speakers who will participate in the online event!