A report published by Asian Development Bank(ADB) in 2013 says 66% of total Municipal Solid Waste is an organic waste. It is observed that the trash bag with organic waste contains the significant amount of food waste as well.
The report by ADB illustrates that only 30% of surveyed household segregate waste at source. Which is also a reason why most of the organic waste is being diverted to landfill. You can read the advantages of segregation of waste in the blog by SafaNepal.
Food and Agriculture Organization(FAO) Summarizes in a finding that approximately 1.3 billion tonnes of food is wasted worldwide. The digit might not be of much concern. But the fact is, the amount of food wasted is enough to feed each person who is uncertain of their next meal. The organization further mentions that food waste in developing countries is almost similar to the waste in developed countries.
Why is food wasted?
There can be multiple reasons why food is being wasted. The food waste here I mean at the consumer level, either at retail stores or at the house. Food waste during the harvesting, processing, and transportation is beyond the scope of this blog.
Either you throw because it is expired, or you throw when you served on the plate more than you need. In some cases, you might be unaware of how to manage food and organic waste. Or on the other side, you don’t want to do extra work. For whatever reason food is being thrown away it is not appreciable.
What are the impacts we are having due to food waste?
I would say there are five major impacts of food waste.
First, you throw food which might be enough to feed someone else. Someone else could have bought it or someone else could have eaten it. According to ADB, in 2010, 25.2 % of people lived below the poverty line in Nepal. Without any doubt, this population can be fed with the food we throw in different ways.
The second impact of food waste is the environmental impact. After you pack your organic waste or leftover food in trash bag it makes its way to landfill. Once the food is dumped and decayed in the landfill site, it starts to emit methane. Methane is greenhouse gas responsible for global warming and climate change. Nepal has a significant impact of climate change and global warming. You can read the Impact of climate change in Nepal in South Asia Journal by Nepali environmentalist.
Since our landfill sites are not scientifically designed, rats, birds can easily get access to the food. These animals and birds once get contaminated can increase the chances of spreading disease in the surrounding areas. So, the third impact of improper management of food waste facilitates in spreading diseases.
Food waste means the waste of resources too. You waste money, energy, and water in the garbage along with the food. Most importantly it would be a disrespect to the people behind the scene who have worked hard to prepare the yummy dish for you.
Waste management in Nepal lacks modern technologies to sort the waste. Majority of the waste is sorted by hand. Other impacts can be seen on the health of the waste sorting employees. When you throw your food and other waste in the same bag employees might have to deal with rotten food. This can have a severe impact on health. So, think about them and don’t put their health at risk.
What can you do to manage organic waste and leftover food?
1. Purchase the amount only you need
Purchase only what and how much you need. Keep track of expiry dates of the food. If for some reason you need to throw it then find some alternative way to manage it rather than packing in a plastic bag and dumping in rickshaw or truck.
2. Serve the only amount you need
Start from a little portion of food whether at home, at a party or any other function. Do not serve much more than what you can fit in your belly. Start with little and you can certainly add later if needed but throwing food won’t be a good idea. There has been a lot of investment in form of money, water, energy and hard work of people behind the scene.
3. Giveaway to the people in need
You can always donate food before it gets spoiled to different charity organizations. But for this, you must be little aware of the quality of food before it causes serious issues. Find a convenient elderly or orphanage care home to donate excess food.
If there’s no way you could eat, manage or preserve food than you can think of composting your waste. There are several tips and tricks of composting. You can check the following YouTube video explaining easy steps to compost at home or apartments.
5. Feed cattle
If you own cattle then you do not have to think far. If not, you can think of donating the waste food to cattle owners. This can be a smarter way to reduce food and organic waste. This is a win-win situation, where you prevent organic waste from ending up in a landfill at the same time you feed the cattle’s.
I am not sure if you are aware of the guy in India who is doing a revolutionary work by managing leftover food with the help of animals. He collects leftover food from the market in every 4 hours and let the animals eat them. Then animals ultimately convert the food into dung which is used to produce biogas in an anaerobic digester. You can watch in details about it the 10 minutes video hosted by Amir Khan. I bet you won’t regret it.
Start a campaign starting from yourself!
My sister used to leave some food on the plate almost after every meal. It took her a month to stop throwing food after my repeated requests and cross checks. Now she eats up every piece of food in her plate. Interesting thing is that she is now fighting against food waste in her community.
You probably have heard news from the hilly and mountainous region where people walk days to get a couple of kilos of rice. They walk miles with babies on their back. Feel the frustration when you even don’t get the amount you need despite having money to purchase. Nutrients, balanced diet is out of their imaginations. They just need to fill their belly. Time to think before we throw every bite of edible food.