Thanks to Covid, social norms about how to act when you have a cold have changed. How wonderful would it be if we could exploit this objection to food waste?
On a certain day, if you get on the bus with a big cough, that is considered completely unacceptable, because it affects other people. However, every day we break down food without applying the same logic.
Even though we know that, within the scope of the climate crisis, everything is interconnected and poverty is on the rise. Even if higher supermarket bills hit most of us directly in the pocket, we’re still there.
In fact, each household in Ireland spends an average of €700 on food annually. This figure is based on 2018 household waste collected at the kerbside, so it doesn’t affect the amount of milk that goes down the drain.
The Environmental Protection Agency’s next survey will be completed this year – and I’d say we’ll see our performance even worse. After all, Covid has encouraged a trend toward more online shopping and an uptick in takeout – and if other homes are like mine, buying online means a big store, that’s all. means waste (and Deliveroo often results in the carrot being thrown away).
In a weird way, the green and brown bins don’t help. Instead, they just banish guilt. You are at home drying with vegetable peels and tea bags, but you should never congratulate yourself for filling the brown bin with expired food.
I used to think it would at least make its way back into the environment – but what about all the energy and effort required to create it? And the energy required to recycle it? And what about all the plastic that it comes with?
The best possible scenario is to stop the waste and consumers need this empty house.
Yes, they are the last link in the system – there is still a lot of work to be done before it reaches them – but the consumer is also the weakest link because changes can be forced at different stages. other segments of the food system.
Ireland recently released a Climate Action Plan which aims to cut food waste by 50 per cent by 2030 and there is a range of measures coming up to make this happen. But you can’t force consumers to eat the broccoli they bought and not sell it.
And aren’t we all consumers? From restaurant managers to supermarket workers, from farmers to running factories, there needs to be a clear change in attitude. We need to make throwing food out seem like an outrageous act.
Last Tuesday was National Food Waste Stop Awareness Day – and this year’s focus is on use day.
Agriculture, Food and Maritime Affairs Secretary Charlie McConalogue urged people to try and understand what foods they waste, and why. He says we should use this knowledge to reduce our carbon footprint.
He’s right. Checking food waste helps focus the mind. I remember a smug but very successful businessman once told me “only what is measured gets done” and this certainly applies to the food waste around our house.
Last month, I chatted with a much younger friend, she is a no-waste queen. She uses the Too Good To Go app and takes a sniff test of things like milk. (In the UK, supermarket chain Morrisons has removed the expiry date on milk, because if stored properly, milk will be good for a few days)
She urged me to keep a brown barrel diary, so I kept a notepad next to the fridge – and was pretty confident about it. I go to the store almost every day, and I rarely overbought. I always fill my cart with discount foods that are close to their expiration date. But in one week, we threw away a lot of things.
Most hairy lentil stews go in the bin, because nobody likes it but me, and I don’t bother freezing it. There’s a loaf of bread, half a bag of potatoes, two bags of spinach left behind in the storage fridge, half a carton of cream cheese, half a pack of ham… I’ll stop there, but there’s more .
If I double-check what I have before going to the stores, I can avoid all of that.
Ireland’s goal is in line with United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 12 which is to “halve per capita food waste globally at the retail and consumer levels, while reducing wage loss”. production and supply chains (including post-harvest losses) by 2030”.
To make this happen, food waste reporting will become mandatory in June. And over the past few years, some things have changed. Bord Beer’s Green Sustainability Program on Origin is making progress among farmers and the businesses it works for. Supermarkets like Tesco are providing unsold but usable food to organizations like FoodCloud (which deals with over 550 community groups). They make energy from food that they cannot give away.
But while improvements are taking place, drastic measures are needed. For example, six years ago in France, they made it illegal for large supermarkets to throw food out. This forces them to give it away or sell it at a huge discount. This will help those who are struggling economically as well as the environment.
This week, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released its sixth report, which warned that the climate action window was closing rapidly.
The authors argue that all actions, no matter how small, are necessary to keep temperatures from rising. With food waste accounting for 8-10pc of emissions, we need to quickly find a way to make people feel terrible about getting rid of it.
https://www.independent.ie/opinion/comment/if-we-want-to-help-save-the-planet-we-need-to-make-wasting-food-socially-unacceptable-41405006.html If we want to help save the planet, we need to make food waste socially unacceptable.