Living waste free is often only associated with the avoidance of packaging , single use plastic and the swap to reusable everything . But it’s a limiting vision.
Being waste free means being mindful of how much we buy, because inevitably the more we buy the more we end up throwing away.
This goes for items, buying new shoes and throwing away old ones when maybe we could just fix or wash the older ones, just as an example. But if nobody buys shoes, and companies keep on producing them , there will be waste. So the key is to reduce the demand . The ‘fast - economy' (fast food, fast fashion ...) is the number one enemy of sustainability.
But this also goes for more ‘basic’ needs - like food .
When you read how much food waste is produced (estimated as 1.7 billion tonnes globally by the fao in 2019) is inevitable to feel overwhelmed.
And then you think of all the people that don’t have enough of it and are starving - and you feel disgust
And then you realise the sheer amount of emissions you are also wasting (estimated at 3.3 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent of GHG released into the atmosphere per year in the same report)
Reducing waste at home is easy : buying less , buying more often , keeping things fresh in the fridge by removing plastic packaging, meal prepping , freezing things and being aware that the expiry dates are just an indication of ‘best eaten before’ - to see if food has really gone off : look, smell and decide for yourself.
You can also get creative, eating all of the parts of fruit and veg, and there are so many waste free kitchen books, ebooks and blogs that one does not get stuck without idea.
Home composting can also be a waste saving idea - still according to the fao, Home composting can potentially divert up to 150 kg of food waste per household per year from local collection authorities...
However, most waste unfortunately is not waste produced by us at home, but is waste produced higher up in the food production chain. Restaurants, bars, supermarkets..
I always supported dumpster divers, I even admit to having had a couple of ‘dumpster’ meals made by more adventurous friends before. But the thing is : it’s illegal. So I do not recommend it, and I am a semi rebel that stops ahead of the possibility of getting arrested..
But: thankfully there is something better (and legal!):
Food that it’s closed to its expiry date it’s marked off and even discounted. If I had to buy something for dinner, I would first look in the reduced section. Makes me feel like I am doing something good. Saved some perfectly fine organic apples today. But that can be a bit hit and miss, you have to go at the right time, in the right place and be lucky if those stickers were already placed.
Well, here is where technology comes useful - with great apps being developed
I have recently tried ‘too good to go’ - an app that connects restaurants and shops to customers looking to be food waste warriors, and why not, also secure a cheaper meal. How does it work ? You sign up, and set the area for the search. Places that use the service come up - if they have availability there will be a time of collection and a set price for a ‘magic box’ where you will find a selection of various things they may sell.You reserve it and there you go. Oh - and don’t forget your reusable bag!
Another app, that unfortunately is not yet really working in Italy, is called Olio. I tried it once in England where it seems to work much better.. it connects people. Say you forgot that you were about to leave for holidays and you bought too many milk cartons - you may find someone to give it too (for free) that may be extremely thankful to you and so you save the milk and you help a person that may be struggling to get by...
I hope there will be more of those things and these types of exchanges will happen more. This should optimise production, there will be the need for less and there will be less emissions associated with food industry.
One thing is emitting greenhouse gases and contributing to climate warming for a good cause (eating , striving, surviving, living) one thing is emitting for waste production that then emits even more and gets us into even more trouble... Some food for thought (let’s not waste it..)
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