When we throw away a half-eaten sandwich, we rarely pause to ponder the implications behind those actions. After all, how could half a sandwich hurt anyone? Such naive carelessness, however, is precisely what numbs us from realizing that our planet is slowly deteriorating into an enormous bucket of waste.
According to the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations, roughly one-third of the food in the world ends up discarded. In other words, we are producing far too much food, even for our gluttonous selves to consume. To make matters worse, when we casually discard leftovers, we are also “throwing away” the time, money, and effort dedicated to producing the food. In a world where starvation and malnutrition still remain rampant in many underdeveloped nations, such wastefulness is socially, environmentally, and economically infuriating and raises an important question: What can we do to solve the issue?
While overcoming the food waste crisis will undoubtedly require tremendous amounts of time, money, and attention, a clear set of solutions does exist. One solution is called ReFED, a blueprint written by a collaboration of over thirty governments, businesses, and non-profit organizations outlining ways to reduce food waste. The plan is divided into three categories: prevention, recovery, and recycling.
The preventative solutions seem the most ideal: they seek to stop problems before they arise. Companies can adjust packaging and invest more time into the safe shipment of ingredients to avoid the possibility of spoiling. Such measures can, according to a report released alongside the ReFED program, save roughly $8 billion and prevent 2.6 million tons of edibles from being wasted.
While preventative solutions seek to stop issues from arising in the first place, recovery and recycling methods focus on putting existing unwanted food to maximum use. After all, why not make the best out of the mess we have created? For instance, tax incentives can be used to compel individuals to donate edible items, whether they are ingredients or fruits. Furthermore, the report calls for increased investments in recycling infrastructures, along with more efficient composting systems to help reduce the quantity of food destined for landfills.
While the ReFED system may not be the only way to approach this problem, it seems to at least bring us a step closer to drastically reducing the tremendous amount of food waste we have spewed into the dumpsters with impunity. Let us save our environment and economy by taking direct action against the food waste crisis toda