Food waste, it’s one of our greatest modern tragedies.  According to the FAO, one-third of edible food produced is wasted. This equates to approximately 1.3 billion tonnes. If food waste were a country, it would be the third-highest emissions after China and the US.

Not only is wasting food a disgrace, but the wasted food also generates greenhouse gas emissions.  As organic waste decomposes in landfill it produces two types of gases – methane gas (54%) and carbon dioxide (40%).  Methane gas is 20x more damaging to the planet than carbon dioxide.

When we waste food we also contribute to climate change.  We also waste the valuable and scarce resources we used to produce our food – land, water, time and labour.

UK Food Waste by Wrap UK

Amount of food waste arising in the UK by sector (total = ca. 15 Mt)

Although the chart is for the UK, we can assume that the ratio’s would be pretty much the same across other geographic regions.  Here are some other food waste facts courtesy of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations:

  • Even if just one-fourth of the food currently lost or wasted globally could be saved, it would be enough to feed 870 million hungry people in the world.
  • The food currently lost or wasted in Latin America could feed 300 million people.
  • At retail level, large quantities of food are wasted due to quality standards that over-emphasize appearance.
  • The food currently wasted in Europe could feed 200 million people.
  • Fruits and vegetables, plus roots and tubers have the highest wastage rates of any food.
  • The food currently lost in Africa could feed 300 million people.

When we waste food, we also waste many other resources.  John has written a great article on how food waste hurts us and our environment in multiple ways, check out his article here.

It’s time for a change

So how can we reduce our waste footprint?

  • Embrace produce for its nutritional value not it’s appearance.  Check out the @uglyfruitandveg campaign.  Check to see if your local produce supplier has a special section for this type produce.  Check out if there are any food boxes dedicated to supplying only ugly produce.
  • Join Spare Harvest to connect with your community and share your excess produce, regardless of what it looks like.  Shared and used produce does not waste other resources.  Yes, you can compost but let’s see if someone in your community will use it before it is recycled.
  • Farmers can feed their livestock with food that is not fit for human consumption.  They can also host gleaning (consumer pick their food themselves) events. Using sites like Spare Harvest, farmers can connect with their local community and let them know when they need food scrapes for their animals and when they are hosting gleaning events.
  • Plan your menu better so you know more accurately what you need to purchase and how much to cook to reduce the amount of leftovers.  Organise your fridge and pantry so the oldest items are at the front and the most recently purchased are at the back.  There are many apps that help store and plan your menu so you can reduce waste.

This by all means is not an exhaustive list. For other tips check out Foodwise’s Cheat sheets.

Maybe you have some simple and easy ways to reduce food waste.  Please share them with us at hello@spareharvest.com.  Remember we can reduce our waste by sharing what we no longer need on www.spareharvest.com.

It is predicted that by the year 2050 the world’s population will be about 9 billion people. If continue to do as we are doing today, we will have to produce 70 per cent more food to feed everyone.

I finish this post with a quote from Mahatma Ghandi: “Live simply so that others may simply live“. Or as my Mum would say “Waste not, want not“.