We, humans, are throwing away huge quantities of food. According to a recently published article by Jessica Aschemann-Witzel in the journal, Science, one-third of the world’s food is lost and wasted, leading to serious environment implications and global warming.
The author notes that food waste is caused by various factors across the supply chain and differs by the country. In developing countries, the bulk of the waste takes place in the production phase (upstream part of the supply chain). This is often due to problematic methods of harvesting, transportation and storage. To counter these, countries need to invest in being more efficient; better infrastructure and technology, better educate workers and improve collaborations and opportunities in the food supply chain.
On the other hand, in developed countries, food waste occurs in the consumption stage (downstream). Up to 30% of household food ends up in the bin. Aschemann-Witzel notes that levels of food waste is also dependent on an individual’s values, attitudes and motivation, and one’s skills in food provisioning and handling. Cultural norms such as holiday meals, offering a wide spread of meals to guests and misperceptions about food safety play a part in food waste.
While there is no single solution to curb food waste, there are some practical steps that one can take to ensure greater sustainability in the long run.
Aschemann-Witzel suggest that something as minor and simple as checking the fridge prior to heading to the supermarkets or stores can have a large impact. Governments can also look into developing legislation to make date labels (sell-by, best-before and consume-by) more user-friendly for consumers. In addition, Governments can contribute by changing overly strict food safety laws, while producers can help with innovative product and packaging solutions.
The full article, titled, “Waste not, want not, emit less” can be read here.
So stop before you walk out your door for the next grocery trip and take a peek into the fridge and food drawers. Let’s do what we can to save the environment!