I have lost count of how many times I started the new year with healthy resolutions. January has always meant a new diet, a new gym membership, a new money-saving plan. I have also lost count of how many Decembers I spent complaining about the things that I haven’t done, instead of congratulating myself for those that I have.
This year I also made a list of green resolutions. I have realised that it doesn’t matter how much I talk about the effects of climate change or how many times I lead discussions around sustainability if I, for one, am not at the forefront in adopting energy-efficient measures.
I also asked CEENERGYNEWS’ LinkedIn community about it and I was happy to note how many people voted for my same option. Indeed, on this year’s resolutions list there is wasting less food.
The CEO of Tesco Central Europe, Matt Simister once told me that “food is at the heart of the global sustainability challenge and we need to work together globally to make sure we can feed everyone on the planet in a way which doesn’t cost the earth.”
“Retailers, producers, growers, farmers, agri-businesses, food manufacturers, households and governments need to cooperate better to reduce the impact of food on natural resources and the climate,” he added.
Putting together all these actors, retailers, producers, farmers, agri-businesses, food manufacturers, consumers, it was obvious to me that supermarkets, restaurants and manufacturers were the ones wasting food the most. Wrong. The most recent estimates of European food waste levels reveal that 70 per cent of EU food waste arises in the household, foodservice and retail sectors. In particular, most food waste is generated during the consumption stage (46 per cent). To put it into perspective, if food waste were a country, it would be the third-largest emitting country in the world. And it would mainly be the consumers’ fault.
The EU has recognised this with the new Farm to Fork Strategy that has set reduction of food loss and waste as an important part of the strategy and has proposed to set legally binding targets to reduce food waste by 2023.
I wrote an article about this initiative. But I haven’t done anything to change my habits. I usually go to the grocery store even if I still have a lot of food at home. I tell myself that I need more ingredients to inspire my cooking skills. I buy nice and fresh things, most of the time without even paying attention to the to be consumed by label. After all, if an item is on sale, it should be eatable, right? Again, wrong. If that label exists, there must be a reason. Probably it would avoid my disappointed face when, in a couple of days, I would open the fridge to find mould everywhere. Next stop? The trash bin (at least, the recycled one).
So, this year, together with a healthy diet and more physical exercise, I want to pay attention to the food that I don’t need to buy and, therefore, I don’t need to throw away.
In France, 250 houses decided to join an operation to reduce their food waste at home by implementing simple measures. First, they weighed their food waste at home without changing their habits, considering that an average person throws away 30 kilograms of food each year. Then, each household chose 3 anti-waste actions to implement before proceeding again to weigh the discarded food products. The households involved in the project reduced food waste by 59 per cent, from 25.5 kilograms/ person/year to 10.4 kilograms/person/year. Among the measures proposed there is having an idea of what kind of dishes we would like to cook in advance, so to buy only what we really need; or looking at the date labelling; or conserving food in the right way and cooking the right amount. I promise to also start counting my food waste and make a little home experiment. Maybe, looking at that awful number will make me change my habits.
And I was glad to find out that 41 per cent of respondents in CEENERGYNEWS’ poll aim at reducing food waste in 2022 as well, so I know I won’t be alone in this effort. Other respondents have indicated the willingness to recycle more (21 per cent), travel more sustainably (3 per cent) and save energy and therefore money at home (35 per cent). All inspirational goals that I hope will turn into success stories to share by the end of the year.