Against food waste
We bought too much because we went grocery shopping with an empty stomach. The portions we cooked are too big for our current hunger. We throw flour away because moths started to breed in there… Then we are dealing with the topic of this month: food waste.
Worldwide we have wasted about 922 million tonnes of food in 2019 (1). In Denmark this was about 700.000 tonnes (2). Which is 132 kg per person. In Germany it was about 11 million tonnes. 102 kg per person (3).
Especially with the crisis in the Ukraine and the lack of grain in many parts of the world, we notice that food is highly needed.
1: Food waste per person in 2019 (4)
However, we are wasting more than just food. What about the use of pesticides? The water used for watering the fields? And the CO2 emission, especially when talking about meat production? We used about 4 million tonnes of pesticides worldwide in 2017 (5). About 70% of the global freshwater withdrawal for agriculture and food production is responsible for about 20% of the global greenhouse gas emissions (6).
If we throw food away, these resources are wasted as well.
Reasons for food waste and how to act
There are many reasons for this waste. However, let us just have a look at two: in poor countries the missing infrastructure is a main problem, while in rich countries a wrong handling of the food is a main drive for it.
Especially the latter can be changed without a big effort on a personal scale. To take the examples from the beginning: We can write shopping lists to help us focus on the things we need. Leftovers can be eaten the day after. And most of the time you could make a new meal out of it and flour is best stored in air-tight containers in a dry, dark and cool place.
Have a look on the internet how to store the different groceries. This knowledge is essential to help regarding this issue.
How will it look like in the future?
Let us have a look at Denmark and Germany again. Both countries want to half their food waste by 2030 (7,8). Additionally, Denmark has more initiatives against food waste than any other country in Europe (9). Germany is working on it as well.
Special initiatives are providing consumers with the possibility to inform and to reduce the impact of food waste. If you are interested then have a look on the different websites: Wefood, Toogoodtogo, Foodsharing… there are many more.
Green Bike Tours is supporting the fight against food waste by giving information to everyone and by supporting local initiatives e.g. Øens have. We offer tours focused on sustainability and green development of these cities.
So next time you are in Copenhagen or Berlin just ask your green guide about the local initiatives. They will be happy to tell you more and give you some tips for your stay.
Karsten Brand, green guide and MSc student Forest and Nature Management
6: FAO. 2020. Emissions due to agriculture. Global, regional and country trends 2000–2018. FAOSTAT Analytical Brief Series No 18. Rome; ISSN 27090078
7: https://www.bundesregierung.de/breg-en/search/halving-food-waste-1582700; European Environment Agency
8: European Environment Agency. 2021. Overview of national waste prevention programmes in Europe, Denmark; https://www.eea.europa.eu/themes/waste/waste-prevention/countries/denmark-waste-prevention-country-profile-2021/view