The main causes of food waste:
· Supermarkets throw out expired products;
· Restaurants get rid of everything that customers have not eaten;
· Individuals throw away perfectly good foods that they simply don’t want to eat, as well as cooked and undereaten foods, or foods bought for future use, but whose shelf life is on the verge of expiration.
Most of the food waste, even in the advanced countries of the world – for example, in the USA – is not recycled in any way. It all just ends up in the city dump – a spectacle that almost no city dweller has ever experienced – just like the slaughterhouse. Unfortunately, spoiled products in a landfill do not “just lie”, but decompose, releasing harmful gases and poisoning the environment. At the same time, methane gas, which is emitted by food waste, is 20 times more dangerous for the environment than CO2 (carbon dioxide).
There is good news too: around the world, individual entrepreneurs and green activists are taking very concrete steps to solve the problem of food waste. These “first signs” show that not everyone cares and that a waste-free future is possible.
1. In Boston (USA) non-profit organization “” (“Food for every day”) opened an unusual store. Here, at reduced prices – for those in need – they sell products that have expired, but are still usable. Most of the goods are fresh vegetables, fruits, herbs, dairy products. Thus, it is possible to solve two problems at once: helping those in need and reducing the amount of food waste that loads city dumps. Such a store does not look depressing at all, but (wow, a package of blackberries for 99 cents!)
2. In France At the government level, supermarkets were banned from throwing away unsold products. Stores are now required to either donate unclaimed food to non-profit organizations that help the underprivileged, or donate food as livestock feed, or compost (return to the soil for its benefit). It is obvious that such a (rather radical!) step will favorably affect the state of the country’s ecology.
3. Schools are known to generate large amounts of food waste. And it is also clear that there is no simple solution to this problem. But here, for example, Didcot school for girls in the UK almost solved the issue. Management was able to reduce the school’s food waste by 75% by interviewing students about food preferences and changing the menu. The price of the school lunch has been increased because ready-made meals were replaced with freshly prepared hot ones, and children were offered more attractive options for fruits and vegetables, while improving the quality of meat products – as a result, the trash cans are almost empty, and all the children are happy.
4. Santa Cruz City Hall (California, USA) sponsored the Zero Food Waste in Schools program. As a result, several “demonstration” schools amazed the public, moving the matter forward! One school reduced the amount of daily food waste from 30 pounds to … zero (does anyone really believe that this is possible?!). The secret, as it turns out, is:
— compost organic waste — allow students to sell each other unwanted items from their standard lunch — and encourage the use of reusable containers that students bring from home.
5. City of San Francisco (USA) – one of the most advanced on the planet in solving the problem of food waste. Back in 2002, the city authorities adopted the Zero Waste program (), setting the goal of completely getting rid of city landfills by 2020. It may seem like science fiction, but the midterm goal of reducing city waste by 75% by 2010 has been met ahead of schedule: the city has reduced waste by an incredible 77%! How is this possible? The authorities started with light pressure on hotels and restaurants. The city’s construction companies were then asked by law to dispose of at least 23 construction waste. Since 2002, all new construction sites in the city (municipal buildings and facilities) have been built only from recycled, previously utilized building materials. Supermarkets are required to provide disposable (plastic) bags exclusively for money. Strict rules have been introduced requiring citizens to compost food waste and recycle non-food waste. Many other steps were taken towards victory. Now the goal of reducing waste by 100% by 2020 does not seem unrealistic at all: today, in 2015, the city’s waste volume has been reduced by 80%. They have a chance for the remaining 5 years (or even earlier) to do the unbelievable!
6. In New York – the largest city in the United States – a big problem with food waste. 20% of residents need or can hardly get at least some food. At the same time, 13 of the annual volume (4 million tons) of various kinds of waste that the city throws into a landfill is precisely food!
The non-profit organization CityHarvest is on a mission to close this tragic gap, and they are partially successful! Every day, the company’s employees redistribute 61688 kg (!) of good, good food from restaurants, grocery stores, corporate restaurants, as well as from farmers and food producers, to the poor through about 500 different programs to help the poor.
Of course, these examples are just a drop in the ocean of solutions that help reduce food waste and make the world a better place every day. After all, you can participate in the waste reduction program not only at the government level, but also at the individual level! After all, as long as you keep throwing food away, can you call your attitude to food 100% ethical? What to do? It is enough to take responsibility for your wastebasket and plan your trip to the supermarket more carefully, as well as donate unwanted products or products with an expiration date to special organizations that help the homeless and the poor.