FOOD WASTE: A SILENT DRIVER OF CLIMATE CHANGE

Doris Ogueri
Posted March 9, 2020 from Nigeria

The climate is constantly changing. Extreme weather events are constantly occurring. People are dying daily as a result of these occurrences such as flooding, hurricane, drought, landslide Should we fold our arms and watch? Should we keep apportioning blames to the Government on not doing enough to curb the climate change? Or should we re-examine our lives and think of what we are individually doing to contribute to the undesirable change? According to Socrates, “unexamined life is not worth living”. Hence, in climate change mitigation (actions to limit the magnitude or rate of long term climate change), every small action truly counts. Studies have shown that anthropogenic activities are major drivers of climate change and unless we change our lifestyles, curbing climate change remains unachievable. This article looks at food waste, its contribution to climate change as well as how we can help to stop it.  The human body basically needs food and water to survive without which starvation sets in and eventually death. According to the report from Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), food wasted or lost globally has been reported to be approximately one- third of the total food produced for human consumption yearly which puts it at roughly 1.3 billion tones and amounts to approximately US$ 680 billion in industrialized countries and US$ 310 billion in developing countries. Food loss/waste occurs at different points ranging from agricultural farmlands to consumption tables. And the level of loss at each point differs from developing and developed countries. In poor countries for instance, post-harvest losses have the highest percentage due to lack of infrastructure and poor storage technology. While in the developed countries, about 40% of the food is thrown away by consumers.

Food waste and climate change Food waste has been identified to have a very huge impact on the climate and is said to be third after the United States and China in terms of impact on global warming if it were a country. As revealed from an assessment by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), 6.7 percent of all global greenhouse gases come from food waste. This description I must say is so scary to imagine. Hence, reducing food waste is surely one of the actions we must take to reduce global warming. Specifically, food production takes up land, water, labor and other valuable resources. On the other hand, decomposition of food waste releases methane, a greenhouse gas that is at least 28 times more potent than carbon dioxide. Notwithstanding all these, food is continually wasted every second globally. Therefore, the question arises, “what can we do to stop it?” What can we do?? Every action no matter how small is imperative in solving environmental problems. To eliminate food waste, we can do but not limited to the following; •    Understanding the critical points along the supply chain where waste frequently occurs and implement integrated solutions. •    Changing our purchasing behavior while making conscientious decisions to only buy what we need and subsequently eating what we purchased. Many people buy food impulsively which sit in the refrigerator for a long period before finally being dumped in the trash bin. While some households cook excessive portion of food, eat a little and throw the rest out. We need to be always reminded that millions of people worldwide are going to bed without food before we throw that food away. We can properly store, use and share our leftovers instead of wasting them. In doing this, we can save money in addition to reducing our climate impact. •    Retailers, wholesalers and policy makers are advised to revisit food labeling pattern as it contributes to reasons why consumers throw packaged food most especially to the bins. A clear message on when best to consume the food item is very important.  •    Hotels and restaurants should share left overs instead of throwing them away. Moreover, right portion needs to be cooked daily to avoid waste.  •    Left over foods should as well be composted to serve as manure in farms. •    Education is the key, so, awareness on the effects of food waste and solutions should be given to farmers, consumers and business owners.  •    Instead of throwing “ugly” and softer fruits away, they should be blended into delicious smoothies for your consumption.  Many other actions can be taken to achieve reduction in food waste and our individual actions will collectively turn to a huge outcome. No one can take care of our planet if we don’t so let’s all join hands and make the world a better place to live while thriving to leave a sustainable world for our future generation.  TOGETHER WE CAN!!!!  

Comments 10

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Rahmana Karuna
Mar 10
Mar 10

thank you for writing about this important topic.
it is truly sad how wasteful humanity is. i used to dumpster dive behind health food stores. and Food Not Bombs folks around the country dumpster dive for the food they cook up and feed to the homeless.
yet i watched as laws went into effect disallowing dumpster diving for food.

"gardens not grass" is a yard sign i love
oregon municipalities sell compost bins for yards.

Doris Ogueri
Mar 10
Mar 10

Thank you for this lovely comment. I believe, together we can curb this food waste problem. Good job you are doing

Anita Shrestha
Mar 11
Mar 11

good

Jill Langhus
Mar 11
Mar 11

Hi Doris,

How are you? Welcome to World Pulse! I agree with you and Socrates:-) I think there are steps being made towards less food waste, but it definitely could be improved upon. Thanks for sharing your tips and solutions. Do you have a NGO, too, to help with this challenge? I'm part of sustainable accelerator now and I was very impressed by this entrepreneur who recently created an app for people and businesses to share food before it gets wasted. I thought it was a brilliant idea. This is more about it, if you're interested: https://olioex.com/

Looking forward to seeing more posts from you.

Hope you're well, and that you're having a great week!

Doris Ogueri
Mar 12
Mar 12

Thank you Jill and good to know you are doing a great work about food waste. I will make out time and go through the link.
Presently, I do not have an NGO for this cause rather I have one for helping the widows and orphans in the rural communities.

Thank you for your concern.

Jill Langhus
Mar 13
Mar 13

You're welcome!

Oh, Olio is being done by one of the lecturers on my accelerator course. She is doing great work.

Okay. I'm looking forward to hearing more about your work.

You're welcome. Hope you have a great weekend.

Doris Ogueri
Mar 13
Mar 13

Thank you. Yes doing great

Jill Langhus
Mar 14
Mar 14

You're welcome! Great to hear:-)

ssambasivan
Mar 12
Mar 12

Hello Doris! Thank you for this informative post on a very important topic. I am surprised to learn two facts from your post - food waste contributes to 6.7% of global greenhouse gas emissions and consumers (including myself) contribute to 40% of food waste in developed countries. Now I am curious what is being done about this in the packaged food industry and also I would like to take ownership of my actions towards minimizing food waste.

Hello, Doris,

Welcome to World Pulse! What a joy that a new voice from Nigeria is rising up! Thank you for opening up a discussion on food waste as one of the causes of climate change. Thank you for sharing your tips and solutions with us!

We are happy you are here. Please continue to write your stories!