This post is part of my bite-size series on food waste, for UNEP/FAO World Environment Day 2013 ‘Reduce your foodprint’ Think.Eat.Save Campaign.
With this article I advanced to the second round of the UNEP/Treehugger contest, and went on to compete with this post. I didn’t win but I was glad to have contributed to the campaign.
Remember that Jerry Seinfeld skit when he says “The whole supermarket experience is designed to break down any sense of having life outside the supermarket. It’s like a casino: no clocks, no windows, no easily accessible exits. Do you ever not buy anything in the supermarket and try to get out of there? It’s impossible. There’s no way out.
You can see what happens to people: When they’re walking up to the supermarket, they have a whole sense of purpose: I’m going to get this, I’m going to get that, I’m going to pay for it and go right back to my normal life.
See that same person 10 minutes later (slow, dazed, looking around confusingly) What aisle is this?”
Grocery stores are consumer traps. They are designed to sell. Buy one, get one free? It may be a good idea if you’re having a party, otherwise ask yourself if you should get the second one, even if it is free.
Statistics say that 32% of all food produced for consumption or bought is wasted. So, of the weekly grocery shopping that you do, about 2.5 days’ worth of food is garbage by the end of the week!
When I have the option, I shop exclusively at farmer’s markets. I admit, it’s a bit easy for me, being raw vegan and single – I don’t usually eat out, I know exactly how much I’m eating in a day, and I shop accordingly. It can be as simple as a bit of planning, but it’s not always so easy. For example, right now, my farmer’s market is a 2km bike ride each way, so that requires some forethought.
But they stock seasonal, local and ripe produce. Buying ripe and ready-to-eat produce, found at local harvests, farmer’s markets or co-ops, in correct quantities assures that less of it will be wasted. Seasonal and local food also travels less, thus is picked more ripe as it spends less time in transport, and it also has a lesser environmental impact. Not to mention that by purchasing local, you’re supporting your community.
I, too, produce waste daily, I’m not a pulverizer. But my compost bin consists of melon and pineapple rinds, kiwi fuzz, banana peel, avocado pits and coconut husks. I even eat papaya and apple seeds. Farmers don’t tag their produce, it is not packaged, and we don’t use one-time shopping bags, especially not the plastic ones. We call it conscious minimizing.
It’s a choice. We all choose to do or not do something. Alternatively, it’s so easy to not pay attention and not care. It’s easy and it’s cowardly.
More and more cities are becoming conscious and functional recyclers, and lately they have started offering organic waste disposal, so it is up to us to make it a habit of sorting waste properly.
But that’s the afterthought. Because we still produce waste.
We don’t think about waste – and waste we do – because we have more than enough food, and we can get it anytime we want.
Our focus must be on reduced consumption. On necessities. On eliminating our needs for the superfluous products. And on being less wasteful.
We have compromised personal health and we have jeopardized the strength and wellness of our ecosystem with our senseless and out of control use of finite resources.
In the end, only a fraction of us are aware how much we are giving up for our lifestyles because we focus on what we’ve gained – comfort, convenience, simplicity, and extravagance. In a world that will increasingly be comfortable only in artificial surroundings, as we witness it becoming lifeless.
World Environment Day is June 5th.
Reduce consumption, reduce food waste, reduce your ‘foodprint’: Participate in UNEP/FAO ThinkEatSave World Environment Day campaign and consider how all of our choices are affecting our surroundings and the planet’s present and future capacity.