Food keeps us happy, refreshed and energised, but it can do the opposite for the world around us.
Over the past 50 years, greenhouse gas emissions from food waste have increased by 300%, making it the third largest emitter just behind the US and China.
That’s why we’ve created Respect Food: a programme which is all about reducing food waste and encouraging a sustainable and responsible attitude towards food. There are so many ways you can help to reduce food waste, and the benefits are even more far-reaching.
Here are 6 ways where being more careful with your food really does benefit the environment.
1. Stop feeding landfills
1.6 billion tons of wasted food is left in landfills every year. Methane, a particularly potent greenhouse gas, is released when this food decomposes and rotting food isn’t good for local wildlife and ecosystems either. You can help to reduce this by making sure you discard waste in food bins rather than dumping it with the rest of the garbage. Fewer landfills mean more open spaces to enjoy, with more trees to breathe in cleaner air.
2. Less littering
Littered food doesn’t take long to attract the interest of animals such as rats and seagulls. Large amounts of animals drawn to food thrown out or put in landfills can have a big impact on local ecosystems and wildlife, so it’s best to either wait to find food-appropriate bins or just save your food. Not only does this create a cleaner environment to live in, but it also helps maintain the balance of ecosystems, including keeping pests in control.
3. Saving resources
It’s estimated that hundreds of barrels of oil and ¼ of the world’s freshwater reserves are used to produce the food that ends up being wasted by consumers. This accounts for over $250 million lost every year. Being careful with your food wastage means you won’t put this use of resources to waste, and it also means that more resources won’t be used in disposing of it. More resources can be used for anything – new spaces, new technologies, better food – all beneficial for us and our future.
4. Make sure waste is waste
It is suggested that over 60% of food in landfills is thrown away when it’s still edible. A common mistake we make is with the expiry dates of food, mixing up what ‘use by’ and ‘best before’ really mean. Good food is then thrown away much earlier than necessary. Trust your nose – food that smells (and looks) good despite having passed its expiry date is usually perfectly healthy to eat. By making sure waste is waste, you can save money and you can help in not increasing the volume of landfills.
5. Hamper hunger
We’ve all bought food that we never end up opening, and ultimately end up throwing away as they inch nearer to their expiry dates. Recent studies have shown that cutting food waste levels down by just 25% is enough to feed over 800 million people who suffer from hunger all over the world. Rather than throwing your food away, why not donate it? Food banks are a great way of getting rid of food and giving it to the people who need it the most. As long as the food is unspoiled, food banks will be happy to take it off your hands.
6. Fight global warming
The most concerning issue of all: food waste produces 3.3 billion tons of greenhouse gases a year. Reducing food waste will reduce the number of greenhouse gases, which in turn, contribute less to climate change which has been blamed for rising sea levels.
So save the planet by saving your food! Every little bit you save makes a difference in the world.