Think Twice Before You Throw It Away!

Food waste: A global tragedy.

‘’We are 7 billion people on this planet, of which 925 million are starving. Yet we annually produce 1,3 billion tons of food waste – or enough to feed 3 billion people’’.

by Selina Juul, Founder of Stop Wasting Food movement Denmark.
Whenever consumers throw away ‘’fresh’’ food they exacerbate the situation of food wasting and its severe effect on the (global) market. The problem begins with the attitude towards consumption behavior in the industrialized countries. As long as consumers can buy more food it doesn’t really matter whether they trash it or not. However this is a popular misconception in our civilized world. We may live in a civilized and technologically advanced world but we behave primitively.
‘’The planet’s population has just reached 7 billion, of which almost 1 billion are starving. Yet, FAO estimates that more than 30% of the world’s food production ends up as garbage. That puts the annual food waste at a staggering 1.3 billion tons – or enough to feed 3 billion people. As we look at the climate perspective, it is estimated that 14% of the world’s CO2 emissions are caused by food waste alone’’. By Selina Juul
To be honest, compared to the food industry the consumers are the smaller culprit.
According the Swedish Institute for Food and Biotechnology (SIK) Gothenburg, Sweden, ‘’ (…) In medium- and high-income countries food is to a great extent wasted, meaning that it is thrown away even if it is still suitable for human consumption. Significant food loss and waste do, however, also occur early in the food supply chain. In low-income countries food is mainly lost during the early and middle stages of the food supply chain; much less food is wasted at the consumer level.’’

Figure two shows that the food wastage in industrialized countries is as high as in developing countries, but in developing countries more than 40% of the food wastage occurs after harvest and processing levels, while in industrialized countries, more than 40% of the food wastage occurs at retail and consumer levels.

The Swedish Institute for Food and Biotechnology (SIK) reports that: ‘’Food waste at consumer level in industrialized countries (222 million ton) is almost as high as the total net food production in sub-Saharan Africa (230 million ton).’’

In the industrialized world consumers could particularly change their throw away mentality to defuse the current situation. This mentality is absolutely unacceptable while millions of people are starving to death in poor countries. Unfortunately children are the most affected victims of this development. In this context Peter Feller, director of Germany’s Federation of Food and Drink Industries (BVE), said that one of the reasons Germans throw away so much food is quite simply that food is “too cheap.”

He wouldn’t throw it away!

(Made by: The Don: In Thought)
Finally the European Commission works out a new resolution to push for many waste-reducing measures, like less confusing date labeling on food packaging, a wider range of package sizes with perishables, and country-specific food-waste-prevention targets by 2014.
The stop wasting food movement argues that 14% of the world’s CO2 emissions are caused by food waste.
Thus the food waste isn’t just a question of economy or ethics but also a question of eco-friendliness. That’s for sure: The world’s population is steadily growing. If we don’t change our waste mentality then one day we won’t be able to satisfy even the hunger of our own children. The climate change will worsen the situation so that crop failures will happen more often in the future. Therefore food waste which seems to be an invisible problem today must become one of the main focus areas in the future.

What consumers can do

– Don’t buy more than you actually need.
– Prepare shopping lists
– Plan your purchase
– Cook the leftovers first
– Share food with neighbors
– Go never shopping with an empty stomach
– Don’t go shopping by car. Using a bike or walking forces you to buy less.

What retailers can do

– Selling last minute food by offering large discounts
– Dropping all quantity discounts (Many single people don’t need large quantity discounts and family-size portions)
– Food which can no longer be sold (still fresh food) can be donated to homeless charities or refugee centers.
I hope that I could convince you to stop wasting precious food. Sometimes it is inevitable to prevent food losses but very often consumers, retailers, suppliers and producers have possibilities to stop it. If we can change our mentality towards food wastage then we will save our money, the economy and maybe we can mitigate the famine in the Third World. Additionally the reduction of food waste can decrease CO2 emissions. By doing so, we will get a cleaner conscience regarding the current situation in the poor countries.

Third World                               ≠                               Western World

Don’t forget! Everyone and his dog have a heavy responsibility!!!


6 responses to “Think Twice Before You Throw It Away!

  1. A very meaningful post, Ferhat!
    I really like how your posts almost always refer to to the topic of sustainability – this clearly shows that you have a strong interest in this matter and you are really engaged in what you are writing about.
    Your newest post again is very infomative and focuses on an important matter. I completely agree with you that especially the western countries drastically need to reduce the amount of waste they produce. I think you did great at presenting ways for consumers and retailers to contribute to this change. However, what I did miss was a look on the political aspect of this problem.
    As far as I know for example, at least in Germany there are strict regulation about things like whether bakeries or restaurants are allowed to give away their leftover food. In addition, I think the regulations concerning the best before dates on groceries (which as you mentioned are indeed confusing as lots of consumers tend to think they can’t use the items past that date – which in fact is not unilaterally true) lie in the responsabilities of politicians.
    So, I think apart from consumers and retail/production there is also a political dimension to this problem. Maybe you could shed some light on this aspect in case you choose to expand on this topic another time:)
    Apart from this, I really enjoyed reading your post!

  2. Hey Ferhat!
    Wow, I am really impressed by your blog post!
    Especially the visuals and quotations you used are very appropriate and eye-catching!
    Thank you for writing about such an important topic! Wasting food is a very critical issue in our modern society. You did a good job because your blog post is not a long “blabla” list about things we do wrong; no! It´s more about what we as a developed country can do to eliminate this problem. Thus I really like your “to do” list, especially “what consumers can do” because I am a consumer as well. Everyday I am confronted indirectly with this problem because it is my decision what I buy, what I eat and what I probably waste.
    Unfortunately, I have to admit that I sometimes throw away food that I consider to be “uneatable”, for example the remaining eggs of a package with an expired best before date. Of course, I am sorry about that, but it is hard to plan my food consumption in a one-person household.
    Do you have some tips for me?
    How can I improve my planning?
    All in all, well done, Ferhat! 🙂

  3. I love your post Ferhat. I think that in too many countries we are wasting a lot of food. Supermarkets should really re-consider what they should do with leftover food. And maybe restaurant could even cut down on portions to serve.

    It would take a global effort which I do not think will happen anytime soon. But people should always keep it in mind.

  4. Hey Ferhat,
    I already read several of your articles and again you managed to discuss a current and very interesting topic! Like Fenja already said, you found your field of interest and you present the various topics very authentic.

    In this article you succeeded to display the topic by referring to professional quotes, stats and results from studies. This gives your post a certain depth.
    Besides, I really like that you give advices how to prevent overshopping.

    In my mind another problem of our society is that people are really picky with respect to buying fresh food. The best examples are apples. People expect them to be bright red and shiny. This leads to the fact that most ones are covered with wax from now on.

    Like Fenja already said, the actors here are not only consumers and retailers, but also the politicians. I also think that retailer and restaurants in Germany are not allowed to donate food. But I’m not a 100% sure.

    Another interesting aspect to this is the current movement of dumpster diving (in German: Containern) which is the practice of sifting through commercial trash in order to minimize the waste of food. I have to admit that I have never done it yet. However I know people who did and who reported that some retailer even put the eatable products in another clean trash.

    All in all, great post and thanks for sharing!

  5. Pingback: The German initiative for a better world | BLOG OR DIE TRYIN'·

  6. Well done – Ferhat!
    This is another interesting, explosive and really important issue. Hence I was looking forward to read your post when seeing your subtitle. Over the weeks of blogging you really learned how to create powerful subtitles, which I do appreciate. Since this is a skill, which not everybody knows.

    To be honest I kind of miss the references in your post, as your post contains a lot of valuable information but I was wondering where you got it from.

    Your pictures a really well chosen and are quite powerful. I really had to shudder when I had a look at the nearly famished child and it made me shiver even more when I saw the overweight children chilling on the couch.
    However it seems to me that the pictures are quite agglomerate and it looks like they are not really integrated within the text. Thus it might have been better to let the text flow next to the pictures at least for the smaller once. Given that there would´t be any space next to the graphics.

    It was nice to see that you also gave some useful tips indicating what we could do about this miserable situation.

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