Food waste has become an increasingly significant environmental and social problem worldwide. Every year, millions of tons of food are wasted during production, processing, and consumption, leading to the unnecessary depletion of environmental resources and undermining efforts to combat hunger.

We gathered to discuss how we can collectively address this issue and what individual actions we can take. Now, let’s delve into the reasons together:

Causes

  1. Inadequate Storage and Transportation: Improper storage and transportation of food often lead to spoilage and wastage.
  2. Consumer Habits: Consumer habits such as over-shopping, misjudging portion sizes, and not consuming expired products are fundamental causes of food waste.
  3. Losses in the Production Phase: Losses occur from agricultural production onwards, including during the harvesting of fruits and vegetables. These losses not only harm ecosystems but also result in income loss for farmers.
  4. Infrastructure Deficiency: Within this category, we find factors like price mismatches for demanded products, as well as market inadequacy or poor conditioning. This leads to a large portion of these foods being unattainable, ultimately resulting in their decay and spoilage.

Effects

  1. Environmental Effects: Food waste leads to the wastage of natural resources. Water, energy, and land resources used for agriculture are squandered.
  2. Economic Effects: Both individuals and industries bear a significant economic burden due to food waste. Additionally, it causes income loss for farmers and prompts consumers to spend more money.
  3. Social Effects: Food waste can weaken efforts to combat hunger. While many people worldwide lack sufficient nutrition, this waste exacerbates inequality.

Solutions

  1. Raising Awareness: Informing society about the extent of food waste is crucial to draw attention to this issue and find solutions.
  2. Sustainable Agricultural Practices: Adopting sustainable farming methods is crucial to increase efficiency and reduce losses.
  3. Recycling and Composting: Encouraging the proper management of food waste through recycling and composting practices is vital.
  4. Improving Production and Retail Processes: Strategies should be developed to manage food more effectively in the production and retail stages.

Alternatives

Solutions Related to Purchasing:

  • Smart Shopper: An auditory recognition-based shopping list tool that records household needs. Users can record and plan their shopping.
  • One-Trip iPhone Application: Similarly, One-Trip iPhone focuses on purchasing behavior, making it easier to prepare a shopping list.

Solutions Related to Preparation:

  • PortionPal: A cutting board with graphical elements showing the actual nutritional needs of an average adult.
  • Salter 1460 SV Nutritional Dietary Computer Scale: A product that measures food quantities and tracks eating behavior to promote healthier eating habits.

Solutions Related to Consumption:

  • Jeffrey Harris Portion Plate: A plate with graphical elements providing hints about the nutritional needs and associated portion sizes for an average adult.

Solutions Related to Storage:

  • Day-Ago: A device that counts the days passed since the food leftovers were stored and the canned goods were opened, providing reminders to the user.
  • StayFresh: A refrigerator bag that slows down food staleness by reducing moisture content and killing bacteria through special materials.
  • ExtraFresh: Chemical disks containing potassium permanganate (KMnO4) to absorb ethylene gases. (Reduced presence of ethylene gases has been shown to extend the lifespan of fruits and vegetables.)

Food waste is not just an environmental issue but also a societal one.

It’s crucial for every individual to take responsibility and take steps to reduce waste. Conscious consumption habits, sustainable agricultural practices, and effective waste management play significant roles in reducing food waste. This effort will contribute to both preserving natural resources and ensuring social justice.

Workshop with our European Solidarity Corps volunteers from 12.10.2023.