By: Makena Dyck
Let’s be honest, we’ve all found that forgotten tupperware of leftovers in the fridge that you had to get rid of. Tossing that one container of food doesn’t seem like much but with a world of over 7 billion people, food waste builds up over time. According to UNEP’s Food Waste Index Report, the world wasted nearly 1 billion metric tons of food in 2019.
The Effect Of Food Waste On The Environment
If we took the amount of global food waste and represented it as a country, it would be the third largest greenhouse gas emitter. Discarded food that ends up in a landfill negatively affects the environment by creating methane. This greenhouse gas traps heat 28 times more compared to carbon dioxide over the span of 100 years. In other words, methane traps a lot of heat over a short period of time, in comparison to carbon dioxide. This causes global warming which is currently endangering our planet and future.
Approximately half of the world’s habitable land is used for agriculture. When sustained properly, farms can increase the biodiversity in soil and protect fresh water sources. Unfortunately, the majority of agricultural fields are used to grow as much food as possible to keep up with demand. Furthermore, this is unsustainable and puts the environment and its inhabitants in danger. Unsustainable agriculture puts our food supply in danger because eventually the soil will lose it’s biodiversity and stop producing fruitful crops. Less crops would induce more food insecurity and scarcity around the world.
Correspondingly, as a society we insist on picking the cosmetically perfect produce and leaving behind anything with slight imperfections most of the time. In Canada, it is estimated that 12% of food waste and loss occurs in a retail setting. Therefore, if we were to accept produce with slight imperfections more often, we could help reduce waste.
What Can I Do To Limit Food Waste?
Every Canadian wastes approximately 79 kilograms of food per year. This makes a total of 2.94 million metric tonnes of food waste per year. Hopefully, after reading this you want to try and limit food waste. Here are some tips on how to do so. First off, when you’re at the grocery store, only buy what you are going to eat and don’t be scared of produce with minor imperfections! Try to store your food properly in sealed containers and at a proper temperature so you have more time to eat it. If you ever find yourself with way too many leftovers, try freezing it to enjoy at a later date. Additionally, always try to compost organic scraps!
To conclude, when we waste food, we waste water, energy and other resources that went into producing it. Furthermore, impacting biodiversity and polluting our environment. That being said, think twice before tossing your leftovers!