Your food and garden waste hurts the planet and it is a massive problem.  We have seen documentaries and read articles on how our waste is impacting the planet.  But no all waste is equal.  In this article we will focus on organic waste as it accounts for 46% of all waste accordingly to a recent report by The World Bank called ‘What a Waste’.

The Stats

Total MSW Worldwide 2012

Accordingly to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) one-third of all food produced for human consumption is lost or wasted globally each year. It is never eaten because it is imperfect, spoiled after harvest and during transportation, or thrown away by shops and consumers.

This waste is happening while millions of people are suffering food insecurity.  According to a FAO Report multiple forms of malnutrition are coexisting, with countries experiencing simultaneously high rates of child undernutrition and adult obesity.

Food waste also creates it own waste; wasted water, energy, time and the money to grow, harvest, store it and transport our food.  Although the figures from the FAO are staggering, they do not include the amount of food and organic waste that is generated in home gardens and small urban farms across the world.

 

Food and Garden Waste in LandfillLandfill And Greenhouse Gases

So where does all this organic waste end up?  The majority ends up in landfill and that’s not the best place for it.  When organic waste is dumped into landfill it undergoes anaerobic decomposition due to the lack of oxygen and produces two green-house gases: methane and carbon dioxide. The showdown between these two green-house gases  sees methane win the race.  Methane is 25x more potent than carbon dioxide.  Any methane molecule released today is 100 times more heat-trapping than a molecule of carbon dioxide.  So, dumping organic matter into landfill is worse for our environment today than driving your car.

Although toxic when released, it can be a valuable resource when captured in the landfill.  Some local governments are investing in technologies to capture methane gas, but we need more.

Solutions

Waste Hierachy

 

This waste pyramid helps us understand better where to put our efforts to get maximum return.  First and foremost, we need to prevent food and organic waste.  Here are some simple solutions to get you started:

Use it – make the most of what you have.  Foodwise and The WWF offer many solutions on how you can reduce food waste in your home.  Plan and shop better, use it all and store it for later.

Exchange it – apps like Spare Harvest and are a great tool to start and build your own local food and garden sharing community.  List what you have spare and let your community what you have before you throw it away.

Donate it – charities like Oz Harvest and Feeding America that collect food waste from retailers and repurpose it to provide it to those in need.

Recycle it – compost is a great way to use waste in a valuable way.  Compost is decomposed food and garden waste that is recycled back into the earth.  Bokashi and Urban Composter offer simple compact compost systems that every home can use.

8r's Waste Hierarchy

Food and garden waste is a big problem.  There are some amazing enterprises that are tackling food waste at the production and retail level, but it starts with you.  Your choices and behaviours have an impact and when it comes to organic waste your actions can have big consequences.

Now it is up to you.  Are you going to make a positive or negative impact with your choices?