It is estimated that 88 million tons of food worth EUR 143 billion go to waste annually in the European Union. The food waste dilemma scales globally with 1/3 of food produced discarded every year. This wasted food could feed the 868 million people who are suffering from starvation and malnutrition. Figures reveal citizens in developed countries throw away approximately 280-300 kilograms of food annually. It is in every stage of the food supply chain that food is wasted: from production, in its process, to post-production (retailers and consumers). The formulation of our modern landscape is without a doubt encourages this food waste predicament which has serious economic, social and environmental consequences.
There are several actions we can take in order to help minimize food waste. In the EU, it is documented that the sector which saturates the percentage of food waste created within its confines is driven by households at 53%. As a result, there is undoubtedly a need for a re-evaluation and reorganization of our purchases and markets. This can be carried out by adopting a more mindful and strategic approach to our relationship with food: planning next week’s meals in advance and using shopping lists in a sustainability effective manner to only purchase the produce we need; in the exact and appropriate quantities we need them. It should be stressed that it is also particularly beneficial to favour local and seasonal foods, especially fruits and vegetables, to those that are out of season and exported from abroad. It is a fact that the shorter a distance the food travels to reach our plate, the less the burden and price the environment pays. Another significant practice to apply to check the packaging of your purchases and try to aim to put preference for more ecological packaging. Another tip would bring to bring your own tote bag or recycle old supermarket bags in order to prevent promoting more plastic waste! Additionally, if you are aware and can foresee that leftover food will go untouched and will not be eaten soon after its preparation, you can either put it in the freezer to extend its expiry or find recipes online that will spruce the meal up to your appetite and satisfaction. Last but certainly not least, if you have bought more food than you are able to consume, donate it to someone that is in need – it will have a double benefit for both the environment and the welfare of our fellow citizens. This is all an urgent dire issue: the global demand for food is expected to increase by 60% owing to population growth and the changing pattern of consumers. Our planet is relying on us to address this food waste predicament which requires us to take charge and transform what we consider to be the status quo now. To highlight our potential in improving this situation, let me note that it is estimated that if we are to cut food waste by half of what it is currently, we could slash greenhouse gas emission by 25%.