Why we need to pay attention to the issue of food waste

Ethan Nichols puts the spotlight on food waste and what we can do to lower our impact on the environment

Ethan Nichols
9th December 2020
The UK population throws away nearly 25% of all food that we purchase, of which, almost three quarters was still edible when it was binned. Coupled with the facts that agriculture uses a whopping 70% of all freshwater consumption, whilst contributing a third of all greenhouse gas emissions, it’s concerning that this global problem is often overlooked. 

If everyone realised the amount of energy, water and other resources that goes into each piece of food we consume (or don’t consume!), then I’m sure that this alarming statistic would improve. 

This issue is finally being recognised, with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal 12.3 aiming to halve global food waste by 2030, through the now universally recognised Food Waste Index, a measure that all nations can compare against. However, it is still down to the behavioural changes of individuals across the globe that will enable us to achieve this goal. 

Image credit: Luke Thornton on Unsplash

Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP), is a British-based charity that has quickly come to the forefront both nationally and internationally in research and procedures to understand and reduce waste. Their expertise includes electricals, textiles, plastics and particularly food. WRAP have demonstrated their ability to operate at varying scales; they were involved in the development of the UN’s Food Waste Index, and cooperated with targeted neighbourhood focus groups, in order to understand the unique needs of each resident. 

During a placement with WRAP, I was able to experience first-hand how they work alongside many other organisations as well as an independent body. They have had the ability to curate and develop a variety of projects, with many now being present in most UK households without the residents even realising.

Freezing excess food, cooking communally with housemates and planning meals for the week ahead can reduce our food waste and our food bill

‘Love Food Hate Waste’ is now seen on an ever-increasing amount of food packaging nation-wide, take a look for yourself! The scheme educates consumers on ways they can make the most out of every product they purchase. Similarly, a rising number of food retailers, following advice from WRAP, are including tips on how to make perishable foods last longer. 

Simple methods such as freezing excess food, cooking communally with housemates and planning meals for the week ahead can both reduce our food waste, as well as helping to bring down our food bill. 

We students can be vital in reducing Britain's and the world’s food waste. Just following the simple steps outlined above can make a huge difference to our planet, and our pockets! The earlier we make a change, the more influential this behaviour can be on others in the future.

In a time when food and water scarcity is becoming an increasing global concern, we all need to do our bit to help out. I’d advise everyone to take a moment to research the resources that go into everything we eat, and following that, I’m sure you can also play your part in reducing our food waste!

Featured Image: Ella Olson on Unsplash

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