According to statistics, nearly one third of the food produced in the world is either lost or goes to waste. Even in Maldives, green waste from domestic or industrial kitchens is a major contributor to the looming waste problem.
Although authorities are constantly trying to keep up with the heaps of waste being produced every day, it is clear that we are in need of more effective ways to take care of this problem.
While there are obviously no easy fixes or “one-size fits all” solution, people around the globe are finding smarter ways to tackle the problem, and we could maybe learn a thing two from these examples.
- Finland – Supermarket Happy Hour
“Happy Hour” introduced by one of Finland’s major supermarket chains is a campaign which offers nearly-expired food items (that would otherwise be disposed) at discounted prices. Simple as it may seem, this is beneficial for both parties; it’s easy on the customers’ wallet and helps the stores to limit food waste.
- USA – Grocery Subscription Boxes
Grocery subscription box providers such as Misfits Market and Hungry Harvest in the U.S have been working to save fresh produce that are normally discarded for being blemished, too big, too small or other superficial reasons. They help to reduce wastage by saving these fruits and veggies that are cast aside, curating the boxes and delivering them to subscribers at comparatively low prices.
- U.K – Rubies in the Rubble
Another clever way of preventing surplus produce going to waste is using them as ingredients for new food products, and this is what they do at Rubies in the Rubble. They are a U.K based company specializing in varieties of condiments such as ketchups and relishes, produced sustainably using fruits and veggies.
- Sweden – Karma Food Rescue App
With a vision to create the first zero food waste generation, food rescue app Karma’s founders have made it possible for cafe’s, restaurants and grocery stores to sell their surplus at half price. They have managed to save hundreds of tons of food this way, and they are continuing to expand this project outside of Sweden.
- Singapore – Good for Food
Hotels and restaurants in Singapore are making use of an innovative “waste tracker” to help them reduce environmental impact by food wastage. Once installed, a camera tracks the amount and type of food thrown into the bin. This data is then used to generate actionable insights, allowing industrial kitchens to reduce waste, cost and environmental footprint.
- South Korea – Urban Faming and Pay-As-You-Waste
Urban farming is encouraged not only as a way of sustainably obtaining fresh food, but also as an effective method of taking care of the waste problem; kitchen waste is used to make compost for farming. In addition to this, residents in South Korea’s capital Seoul are also charged by weighing waste as it is deposited.
- World Food Programme (WFP) – #StoptheWaste Campaign
In a recent awareness campaign introduced by WFP, they are encouraging us to think about how we can reduce food waste in our daily lives. To participate in the campaign all you have to do follow the 3 simple steps below:
- Search your fridge or pantry for an item that you’ve forgotten about (that is still safe to eat).
- Snap a selfie with the food item (don’t forget to eat it!)
- Share this photo on social media with the hashtag #StoptheWaste and challenge 3 friends to do the same
- Create a meal from leftover ingredients, share the recipe and encourage others to do the same.
WFP has also enlisted popular restaurants and celebrity chefs such as Andrew Zimmern to take part in this campaign.
Here we have highlighted a few ways people are fighting the issue, and there is so much more that can be done. What we also need to keep in mind is that every little action matters.
Whereas in most developing countries food is lost in the early stages of the fork to farm journey due to poor farming practices and inefficient storage, it’s different here in the Maldives. Most of our food being imported, the wastage happens during the later stages of consumption. This is why individual action is so important, and can have a significant effect on the overall outcome.
While major businesses, local authorities and non-profits are devising long-term plans, it’s important that we, as consumers take the time to properly evaluate how our daily habits are contributing to the problem, and find out how we can reduce the impact.
There are more than enough reasons why we can no longer turn a blind eye on this problem. Climate change and environmental impact is only the tip of the iceberg; the economic and social impact of potentially avoidable food wastage is huge as well. Every food item tossed into the bin is also money and resources going down the drain, and the food we so carelessly discard is something that could’ve improved food security for someone else. This is precisely why it has become a global concern, and immediate action is needed.
Words by Sadha