In speaking of food waste we often hear about the environmental consequences: waste of land use, energy, water, our natural surroundings, and so on. However, the real cost of food waste is not only paid for by nature, but also by people. This blog dives into the social impact of a malfunctioning food system, in which over 30% of the worldwide production of food is wasted (FAO, 2018) while at the same time one in nine people does not have access to sufficient nutritious food. What is the state of hunger worldwide, versus the state of food waste? Who are the ones most affected? What are the main consequences that they carry? In other words: how can the food system be balanced out?

By becoming more aware of the social consequences of a malfunctioning food system, including food waste, we can strengthen the view on our role within a global food network. It will show that the smallest action that aid the reduction of personal food waste does make a difference in changing the planet’s and people’s health. Accordingly, we look for ways to achieve social as well as environmental justice through the food-related choices we make daily.  

A closer look at the issue

Our food system has developed into a system stimulating continuous growth, in many cases at the expense of life on the planet and livelihoods of people. Some people are more affected by this than others, but ultimately it harms everyone. The current production of food is enough to feed the world population twice (WFP, 2018). At the same time, roughly one in nine people worldwide suffer from hunger (FAO, 2018). It is clear that a profound change in the food system is needed to nourish the 800 million people that suffer from undernourishment in a way that ensures the health of the planet.

The global population is expected to grow with 2.3 billion people by 2050, counting almost ten billion people in total. The food production should increase with 56% to feed all those people. Or: we can reduce our food waste and not have to increase in food production at all.

On the macro-level, plans are made to reach targets to reduce food waste and nudge consumers’ behaviour in the right direction such as streamlining expiration labels and eliminating the use of trays in cafeterias (see box) (Ranghanatan et al, 2018). A big share of the waste, however, still happens on the micro-level: within households. Figure 1 shows where food is wasted on the consumer level the most.

Figures are consumer waste per capita based on data from the 2007 FAO report ‘Global Food Losses and Food waste’. Globally, consumer food waste amounts to roughly 350 Mt which equates about 50 kgs per person or 10% of total food supply (Gustavsson et al (FAO), 2011

In the figure we see that the so-called high-income regions, defined by the World Bank, and Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), have the highest share of wasted food at the consumption level. The USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand produce a striking 110 kgs of food waste per person each year.

Source: UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), 2017
Note: Developed countries are not included in the regional estimates since the prevalence is below 5%.

So: how does that relate to undernourishment? Whilst the number of undernourished people was steadily falling from 2005 – 2014, it has started to increase again in 2014 and has since risen again to 821 million people (Hutt & Gray, 2015).  The following chart shows where undernourishment is prevailing, globally.

The chart shows that the largest part of undernourished people live in Sub Saharan Africa and South Asia. So the regions where most food is wasted on the consumption level are the ones where hunger is least prevalent. This raises a moral question: how we can justify wasting the food that people in low income countries apparently are in such great need of?

Less food waste, more food security…?

To a large extent, the social impact of food waste relates to environmental consequences. The next figure gives an overview of those environmental costs.

Scialabba, 2014)

A growing global demand will put extra pressure on the agricultural sector. However, the need to produce more food can be offset dramatically by reducing the amount of food that is wasted. This also seems like an ethical thing to do, as societies carry most of the costs of the environmental impacts of food waste. First of all, simply said, human efforts to produce food that does not get a use, is wasted effort. Secondly, the pressure on countries to produce food is increasing as population grows. At the same time regions such as Sub Saharan Africa and the MENA-region also experience increased pressure on their agricultural productivity due to the effects of climate change. Soil is degrading, water resources are getting more scarce and more extreme weather conditions occur. If no serious system change takes place, the risk of a global food crisis is inevitable.

Rural women’s role in food security

The ones who are most affected by the increased pressure on the food system are rural women in low income countries. Women feed least and last in the countries that are faced with hunger, conflict and famine. Therefore, rural women are part of the so-called “left-behind category” (Nyirongo, 2018). Famine and hunger are not related to the fact that there is not enough food for people; it relates back to the access that people have to the food that is available, which is a political issue. Regarding food access, women are last in line. There are three reasons why:

  1. Deep-rooted gender norms. In many countries, the case is that women only eat after the men and kids have had food. Especially when crisis hits, women are the first to sacrifice their food to make sure the family has enough. Women do 2.6 times more unpaid care and domestic work than men do and earn 23% less for paid work (ILO, 2016).
  2. Man-made conflict. Man-made conflict is the number one driver of food insecurity and women are hit hardest by that. As men fight in conflicts, women become the head of the household, yet having little to offer to their families due to a lack of resources. Additionally, women are more subject to abuse, violence and abduction from their homes in times of conflict.
  3. Lack of women’s rights. In many countries, women have less power and less rights compared to men. Even though women make up for more than half the world’s agricultural workers, they do not own any of the financial means, land or tools to farm (WFP, 2018).

Challenges for the role of rural women for development, food production and poverty eradication are further complicated by a changing climate, food price inflation and economic crisis. Women empowerment is essential, not only for the well-being of communities, families and individuals, but also for overall economic productivity. Women are key agents in development as their productivity level is higher than men’s. A study of the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) estimated that if women had equal access to resources as men (tools, land, credit etc) agricultural output would rise up to four percent. This might not seem like a lot, but globally, as a high share of low-income countries are active in the primary (agricultural) sector, this definitely adds up. Additionally, if women are given the opportunity to control household income they are more likely to spend it on food, health, clothing and education than men are.

Believe.earth

Improvements in food security can be made by, for instance, improving rural women’s access to agricultural resources and credits and enhancing decision making and ownership within households, communities and at government-level. Gender equality is essential in achieving food and nutrition security and contribute to social and economic growth, both now and in the future.

Conclusion

Globally, a clear pattern is visible: in high-income countries most food is wasted consumption stage of the food supply chain. Low-income countries hardly waste food at that level. These countries that largely rely on their primary sector, of which agriculture holds the largest share, suffer the most from the consequences of food waste because it puts pressure on their capacities. At the same time, they encounter the greatest problems in the agricultural sector such as heat and drought, water scarcity and more extreme weather conditions due to climate change.

The prevailing food crisis is a direct consequence of food loss and food waste practices, of which rural women in particular are affected the most. To solve these issues in the food chain it is important to empower rural women, as not only does it reduce inequality, it also increases agricultural productivity, and investment in the community that women take part in.

But: we shouldn’t forget the responsibility that the consumer has on the other end of the food value chain. System changes can come from here, too. The question isn’t only: how can we increase agricultural productivity to meet the nutritional needs of ten billion people in 2050? But: How can we make better use here and now, of the food that already exists? This is where we should strive for making healthier choices in consumption, both for the people as the planet. Cutting down on meat consumption would be a major step ahead, as this relieves a lot of pressure off the planet’s resources and lowers greenhouse gas emissions. Combating food waste is another major one. With that we can influence the lives of those most affected by the malfunctioning food system on the other end. Now, why should we care? Because, as Martin Luther King said: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”

References:

  • Besley, T. Persson, T (2008) Wars and State Capacity. Journal of the European Economic Association DOI: 10.1162/JEEA.2008.6.2-3.522
  • FAO (2010) How to Feed the World in 2050
  • FAO (2011) The state of Food and Agriculture. Women in agriculture, closing the gender gap for development.
  • FAO (2018) The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World. Building Climate Resilience for  Food security and Nutrition. http://www.fao.org/3/I9553EN/i9553en.pdf
  • Hutt, R., Gray, A. (2015) What is Hunger? World Economic Forum. Derived from https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2015/10/what-is-hunger/ at 21/05/2019
  • Kapur, D. (2011) 31 – Agriculture, food and nutrition security. Public Health Nutrition in Developing Countries, Pages 844-878.
  • Kim, K. & Morawski, S. (2012) Quantifying the Impact of Going Trayless in a University Dining Hall. Journal of Hunger & Environmental Nutrition Volume 7, Issue 4, Pages 482-486.  
  • Lipinski, B. (2013) By the Numbers: Reducing Food Loss and Waste. World Resources Institute. Derived from

https://www.wri.org/blog/2013/06/numbers-reducing-food-loss-and-waste at 22/05/2019

Summer’s here! Bring out the sun beds, dig out that bathing suit, lather yourself in sun screen and just lie under the sun forgetting all about deadlines and alarm clocks. Well… not exactly, but another beautiful season is upon us and with it come different patterns and habits. As I was daydreaming of all the things that I will be able to do in summer like to go out more, hang out on the beach, and reclaim the wonderful afternoon siesta, I started to think of good habits to pack for this summer. I’m going to share a few of them with you here.

At home

Shed those extra pounds

With a new season it’s always great to look into your closet and see which pieces of clothing you haven’t worn. A simple trick is to put the hanger facing outwards (opposite to what you’d normally do) when hanging clothes on the rail and if after the season they are still turned outwards, then you don’t really use is.

Keep it cool

Higher temperatures mean food can spoil quicker. It is therefore crucial to wash and store all food well. Remember to look at our blog on how to store food properly. If you get distracted and find your lovely fruits covered in dark spots, don’t worry about it. Just cut out the good fleshy bits add some lemon juice and voila you have a nice refreshing smoothie OR simply gather those lonesome fruit, slice them razor thin, add some red wine, brandy, brown sugar and lots of ice for a simple summer sangria


© MollieKate

Chop – Drizzle – Eat

Let’s face it, it’s warm, we’re lazy so we might not feel like making a proper meal. Summer is perfect to enjoy a nice crunchy salad with all kinds of vegetables, beans, herbs, grains, nuts, and lentils. Scrape your fridge or cupboards, chop and mix everything and then drizzle with a lovely dressing. You can opt for one of my personal favorites: Tahini dressing, or Fresh mint dressing. Yum!

Out and about

Stay safe

The sun’s warmth is lovely but not its UVA rays. It’s important to protect our skin with face and body sunscreen as well as after-sun. Unfortunately, commercial sunscreens have a huge deteriorating impact on marine life and are linked with the destruction of the coral reef (Danovaro, R. et al, 2008). Fortunately, there are eco and even zero waste options which you can make yourself.

Tidy up!

Clear blue waters, soft green grass or beautiful clear sands. These splendid places offer us moments of peace and a place to have fun with our friends, so why not give something back? While you’re at the beach or park you can  spend 5 minutes cleaning up and even join the social media trend #5minutecleanup. It’s quick and very effective, and just think if all of us got into this habit!


© Giovanni_Tafa

Guilt free Ice cream

It doesn’t matter if it’s  vanilla or a triple chocolate chip cookie madness, ice cream is EVERYTHING in summer. However, this icy creamy goodness comes packaged in plastic that we unwrap and throw out before devouring it. We can easily avoid this by buying ice cream cones so everything is consumed and no more plastic. Yes please!

Going away

Pack it

It’s not just your luggage that needs to be packed, so does your food. Before heading out make sure to freeze what can be frozen i.e. dairy products, some vegetables, all fruits and more. Soft herbs like basil, mint and parsley don’t hold up well frozen, so chop and mix them with olive oil and freeze in an ice cube tray.  Another option is to see what food items can still be eaten and give them away to a friend or neighbour who will be more than happy to receive them!

Be prepared!

– The city;

A mason jar and a tea towel go a long way. These two items can save you a lot of unnecessary waste. The mason jar is perfect to keep beverages, ice cream scoops, and small snacks, while the tea towel is great to hold bread, croissants, fruits, or lay out for a mini picnic. These take minimal space and can be carried around the city in your favorite tote bag ♡

– Camping;

This requires a bit more preparation. The basic items would be a good water jug which keeps your drinks chilled or hot, as needed. Then reusable cutlery and a compostable plate (made from bamboo or cornstarch; I know incredible!). Finally, your toiletry kit; bamboo toothbrush & holder, toothpaste tablets, deodorant, bug spray, moisturizer, and sunscreen which can all be DIYed.


© GoingZeroWasteBlog

© GoingZeroWasteBlog

Summer is all about having fun, and that’s what our journey to reduce food waste should be about. It’s all about discovering alternatives and being creative with what you have. When I say you it is not just one individual but ALL of you who are reflecting on your personal habits but also the collective potential to make a positive change.

Who’s a self sufficient responsible zero waster? You are!

Sources

Sunscreens Cause Coral Bleaching by Promoting Viral Infections ( Danovaro, R. et al, 2008)

Going zero waste

Cookie and Kate recipes

After last weekend we can gladly say that summer has officially started. This asks for celebration! TBYW closed off the season before the summer break starts by hosting one of the biggest events of the year: the TBYW Summer Festival. The theme for this edition was Zero Waste, a topic that was used as broad as it gets. From making DIY eco-friendly cosmetics to growing your own plants and herbs, a wide range of DIY crafts and interactive sessions prepared everyone for a sustainable, waste-free summer. Doing so, we set ourselves free from the waste through recycling, reusing, reducing and reconnecting. In this blog you’ll find a review of the day through 4 lessons I learnt at the first-ever summer edition of the TBYW Festival

#1 Zero-waste DIY’ing does not have to be expensive, difficult and time-consuming

Credit: Stefa Nia Bi (facebook); water_i_am (instagram)
Credit: Stefa Nia Bi (facebook); water_i_am (instagram)

DIY’ing? Isn’t that for people who have a lot of time, money and specific skills? Well, the answer is no. Using only some necessary ingredients, visitors DIY’d their way to a pantry filled with dish soap, all-purpose cleaner, deodorant, toothpaste, menstrual pads and much more. The main ingredients that were used were ones you can find in your cupboard, such as towels and jars. The rest of the raw materials was bought in bulk  at the Soap Queen. The eco-friendly cosmetics workshop was a massively popular one during which, in about one and a half hours, the participants learnt to make sunscreen, toothpaste and deodorant. No artificial ingredients were used, just the necessary ones. And the fun thing is, from there on it was  just a matter of putting everything together in the right quantities and you’ve made yourself the ecologically-approved, natural, environmentally-friendly, waste-free version of the cosmetic products you use the most. Win-win!

#2 Bacteria can be good for you

Credit: Stefa Nia Bi (facebook); water_i_am (instagram)

Bacteria are generally linked to disease and food decay and we should do as much as we can to avoid having them! Right? Well, no. Some bacteria are actually essential to stay healthy. Large amounts of ‘bad’ bacteria can get you sick, or make food go bad, but ‘good´ bacteria can make sure that the bad kind does not stand a chance of growing. These good bacteria are referred to as probiotics. Probiotics provide healthy bowel flora which is essential for healthy digestion, bowel movement and a well-functioning immune system.

Credit: Stefa Nia Bi (facebook); water_i_am (instagram)

Fermentation is a process that provides for ready-made, natural probiotics. Through the use of micro-organisms a metabolic process takes place, changing organic materials make-up. Kombucha is the perfect example of a fermented product with great health benefits due to the high levels of probiotics. The base consists of hot water mixed with sugar and black or green tea. After the mixture has cooled down to about 20°C the micro organism is added: the SCOBY. A SCOBY is a Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast and looks as funky as it sounds. However, this is the essential component that eventually causes fermentation to take place. The SCOBY ‘eats’ the sugars that are in the liquid, and produces alcohol (the alcohol percentage remains at a maximum of 1%), enzymes, carbon dioxide, a range of acids, vitamin C and B-vitamins. Not all claims such as the detoxing and cleansing properties are supported by scientific research, but in any way a refreshing drink with probiotics, vitamins and far less sugar then usual sodas can’t be wrong!

During the festival a one-hour kombucha workshop was provided by one of our beloved volunteers. As TBYW hopes to give more in the future, keep an eye out for more workshops after summer!

#3 Kimchi is one of the healthiest foods in the world

Credits: Simon Lenskens

Kimchi is a Korean side dish with pickled vegetables. The slightly sour taste might remind you of the previously named kombucha, and that is because kimchi is fermented as well. At the Summer Festival a kimchi workshop was held, given by non other than the founder of The Table For Kimchi who is Korean herself. Her level of knowledge and passion for the product was contagious for all participants who after the workshop could take a jar of the good stuff home.

Credit: Stefa Nia Bi (facebook); water_i_am (instagram)

Kimchi is prepared by dehydrating vegetables first, in salt. After that, a mixture, known as the kimchi paste, was prepared using seventeen (!) ingredients. To put that into perspective, most kimchi recipes use five or six ingredients. For this session, a vegan and sugar-free version was prepared using apples and kiwi instead of sugar and vegetable broth, sea greens (kelp, seaweed) and soy sauce to provide for the umami taste that fish sauce or shrimp paste can have, which are commonly used.

While the cabbages were dehydrating, the kimchi paste was prepared. Sea salt is an important ingredient that will eventually cause the ‘bad’ bacteria to not win the competition with the probiotics. The fermentation process takes around four months on 3°C, so you have to have a little bit of patience if you let it ferment in the fridge. However, if you store in at room temperature you can speed up the process and your kimchi is ready after about one week.

Credit: Stefa Nia Bi (facebook); water_i_am (instagram)

The health benefits of kimchi come down to the facts that it’s high in fiber, low in calories and packed with nutrients. We don’t have to get into the benefits of probiotics that are present due to the fermentation process again, but it’s worth naming that kimchi is full of it. With regards to the nutrients, kimchi stores among others; vitamin A, B1, B2 and C, and essential amino acids and minerals such as iron, calcium, and selenium. Continuing onto a range of components that are hard to pronounce, kimchi contains capsaicin, chlorophyll, carotenoids, flavonoids, and isothiocyanates that a.o. aid hormonal balance, digestive health, lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol levels and the list goes on and on. Finally, an important component to name is sea greens. Sea greens have been rising in popularity in the health food section, and serve as a great alternative for animal-based protein due to their richness in protein and minerals.

At the festival the mixture was tasted right after it was made, and people loved it already. Traditionally kimchi is used as a side dish,  for instance with fried rice, inside dumplings, in a spicy stew (kimchi jjigae, 김치찌개) or as kimchi with udon, a thick wheat noodle (김치 우동). Last saturday the freshly made kimchi was served simply on a bit of toast and it didn’t take long before the whole dish was empty. To fully benefit from all those health impacts however, we should (unfortunately) be a bit more patient and wait until fermentation has taken place, properly.

#4 A plastic-free lifestyle is adaptable for anyone

The collected waste of the month
Credit: Stefa Nia Bi (facebook); water_i_am (instagram)

Late in the afternoon the TBYW-festival visitors were invited to join an interactive session during which four volunteers shared their experience with a plastic-free lifestyle. Whereas the title of the session, plastic-free, might sound frightening, what became clear in the discussion is that plastic-free does not have to be taken as strictly as it sounds. It is a process, and in this process we try to refrain from speaking in terms of ‘doing it perfect’ and ‘failure’ because these make it seem like there is one way to do it, all or nothing. This is not true. Easy swaps from disposable, single-use goods can be made, to reusable and sustainable. For example, make a linen bag, coffee-to-go cup and prepared meals part of your standard packing list when you’re on the go. This way you can decline the plastic bags, disposable coffee cups and plastic-wrapped meals and you’re already well underway on your journey to keeping plastics out of our natural environment.

The most striking findings of the discussion are the following:

Credit: Stefa Nia Bi (facebook); water_i_am (instagram)
  • All participants spent LESS on their groceries this past plastic-free month. By buying in bulk and choosing your products more wisely, it was found that everyone lowered their grocery-expenses this past month. Also, as many prepared the meals and took them when they were on the go, less money is spent on plastic-wrapped sandwiches and salads.
  • All participants had a healthier diets during a plastic free month. It was found that buying package free largely directs you to the fresh produce-aisle or the markets where mostly non-processed foods are sold (bread, nuts, fresh fruit and vegetables etc.). This automatically causes you to stick to a diet reliant on non processed, fresh food. Isn’t that a great side-effect!
Credits: Simon Lenskens
  • Most participants learnt new food preparation skills. Examples of this are: making sourdough bread, making pasta, preparing plant-based milk, etcetera. It was found that after the third time it’s not even that much of an extra effort anymore to make your own bread or milk, and it saves you a lot of money.
  • Plastic-free requires mutual effort of both people and politics. Policies could drastically decrease plastic use. With the choices we make on the consumer-level, we can show that there is a demand for for instance decreased plastic packaging and more zero-package shops. We vote with our wallet, so to say. It requires politics to push plastic-free policies and it requires people to make plastic-free decisions. This way, the consumer cán make a difference.
Credits: Simon Lenskens
Credit: Stefa Nia Bi (facebook); water_i_am (instagram)

Conclusion

All in all, I can really say that not only the festival was very learningful, it was great fun as well. And what was highlighted in this blog was just the tip of the iceberg. The TBYW Festival offered not only workshops, also an informative wall about the future of food, a clothes swap corner, a yoga session, a food market, music in the evening and let’s not forget the great food that was provided throughout the entire day. The atmosphere was very relaxed, and the setting felt intimate, even though most of the workshops were pretty much full. I would like to thank all the people who came, and the TBYW team for the great organization! I am looking forward to the next version of the festival that will probably be held in autumn/winter, and I hope to see you there!

Credit: Stefa Nia Bi (facebook); water_i_am (instagram)

Credit: Stefa Nia Bi (facebook); water_i_am (instagram)
Credits: Simon Lenskens



Around the Wei river, trees and shrubs dot the area and grass stretches over kilometres of land cut by dramatic canyons. This green stretch of land in central China covers the Shaanxi province and extends to inner Mongolia is known as the Loess Plateau (Ahlquist, n.d.). Here 20 million people have lived and grown their food like the Sichuan pepper, to sustain themselves for centuries. These highly fertile soils have been significant in China’s history and played a crucial part in the survival and wellbeing of its civilisation.

People living here are dependent on these rich soils. Farmers are very much attuned with the land with its properties and needs, agriculture here is planned. Terracing has provided a way to control soil erosion and the resultant loss of land. Land which is sloped into a series of successive planes provides a way to control sediment flow which then flowed into downstream (TheWorldBank, 2007).  Also, herders cannot leave their herds to wander freely around grasslands and graze wherever and as much as the animals would like. Other measures include sustainable water management, increased vegetation cover, and this was all reinforced with policy.

This is what land degradation looks like.

This however has not always been the case, actually it was quite different before 1994. Planned sustainable agriculture was an outcome of WWF’s project entitled the ‘Loess Plateau Watershed Rehabilitation project’ (TheWorldBank, 2007). Its aim was to attain sustainable living among residents by revisiting agricultural practices in the area. Farming here was exhaustive, acres of trees were cleared to make space for agricultural land, crops were planted on steep sides of the valley, grasslands were exhausted by herds of goats, and most importantly people did not own the land but they could just farm it (Liu, 2005). These practices went on for centuries while people did not really think ahead, and so the land started to turn to sand and wild plants and animals disappeared.  People were left without a source of food or income causing poverty within the region.

Land degradation refers to the diminished value of land from disturbances, either caused by natural phenomenon or human activity. These changes or disturbances negatively impact the ability of land to function as part of the ecosystem and hinder its ecosystem services, i.e. the absorption, storing, and recycling of water, energy and nutrients (FAO, 2013). Such natural phenomenon as extreme weather, drought, or salinization from coastal surgance can cause for land to dry up and erode. However, the causes of land degradation are mainly anthropogenic and agriculture related. The increasing and combined pressures of our modern-day agriculture and livestock production include; overcultivation, overgrazing, forest conversion, deforestation, pollution and urbanization (FAO, 2014).

  • Globally the total amount of food wastage in 2007 occupied almost 1.4 billion hectares (this is significantly larger than the size of Canada), equal to about 28 % of the world’s agricultural land area.
  • While the major contributors to land occupation of food wastage are meat and milk, with 78%of the total surface.

The way we produce and consume food requires us to slash acres of trees, destroying natural habitats, displacing numerous species, and in so doing jeopardizing biodiversity. This conversion from natural vegetation to agricultural land tends to go beyond the soil’s natural ability to recover. The industrial agricultural method intensively grows a single crop within a region, this is known as Monoculture. This drastic shift depletes the nutrients from the soil which is normally used to the richness of biodiversity. Additionally, the improper use of fertilizers, particularly nitrogen and phosphorus contaminate and pollute the soils making it more acidic and less fertile.

When it comes to live stock, this requires huge amounts of land, as a place to keep the animals but also vast agricultural land to grow their feed crops i.e. alfalfa (FAO, 2013). Besides land occupation, livestock production is also responsible for over grazing, where pastures are exposed to constant intensive grazing over long periods of time.

It’s not just the way that we produce our food, it’s also the rate. The land’s resources are consumed much faster than they can replenish and this fails to ensure the long-term sustainability of land. Which can eventually lead to desertification, meaning that a piece of land dries out, losing its water sources and wildlife and becomes a desert. (Fertile Crescent)

All these negative implications of the present food supply chain, and faults in the industrial agriculture methods illustrate the repercussions which the natural environment is subject to. However, these repercussions extend to our communities and economies.

On the environment

Soil is also an excellent source of water, green water that is. This was already highlighted in a previous blog post on the implications of food waste on our water sources. Poor agricultural practices and poor land management also leads to the contamination of waterways and groundwater (FAO, 2013). This mostly happens because of the irrigation method that is used, the pesticides which are either discharged into freshwater creating deposits in river banks or leak into groundwater.

On our communities

The constant and increasing pressures on land to extract as much food as possible is actually backfiring. Nutrient less soil produces poor quality crops which negatively impacts our health. Loss of land means that there is less space to grow food, which is a huge issue for a growing population already dealing with food insecurity. It also means loss of livelihood for those who are dependent on this land, farmers risk their income or even their own meals and fail to provide for their families. Once soil is degraded it turns into sand and dust which is swept away by the wind, increasing particles in the air and creating greater respiratory problems for us all (FAO, 2013).   

When we then realise that one third of all the food produced for human consumption is then being wasted, this continues to make less and less sense.

Once we take a few steps into the journey food makes to get to us, we start to gather all the ‘invisible’ resources that are necessary. When talking about food waste, we can not only talk about the food that is wasted, though this is an excellent starting point. We have to look at where this food comes from, who is producing it and why these resources and long hours of labour than end up in landfills decomposing. However, very much like in the Loess Plateau there is potential. Here, land was allowed to regenerate resulting in vegetative cover increase by 17 up to 34%, crop production was more stable ensuring a secure food supply for the inhabitants (Liu, 2005).  By protecting their natural resources 2.5 million people were lifted out of poverty as employment opportunities increased and they could provide for themselves once again.0

Now, this may seem like a story of a distant place that has nothing to do with us but we know that our food is global, and so is our food waste. Borders and distances in kilometres mean nothing to nature and our eco system’s biodiversity. We’re all in this together (un)fortunately. In our local efforts to reuse food, reduce food waste, and recycle what’s left we are actually contributing to a much larger effort.

Source

Ahlquist, M. (n.d.).

FAO. (2013)

FAO. (2014).

Liu, J. D. (2005)

TheWorldBank. (2007)

In this blog you’ll find the five most wasted food products, and some inspiration for what to do with them so they don’t have to go to waste! Find five recipes that are easy and quick to save you time, money and get a delicious meal on the table, following a zero-waste policy. Be a hero in the kitchen and try them!

#1 Bread

Bread & Butter Pudding

240 million slices of bread are thrown in the bin every year. Unbelievable! Let’s fill our bellies instead of bins using the leftover bread to make this amazing bread and butter pudding. Too easy and to good to let it go to waste!

Ingredients:

  • 1 egg (if you want to keep it vegan, use 2 tablespoons chia seeds that are soaked for 15 mins in 6 tablespoons of water)
  • 6-8 slices of bread
  • 2-3 tablespoons of butter (if you want to keep it vegan, use dairy-free margarine)
  • 500-750 ml (dairy-free) milk of any kind you have left in the fridge.
  • 4 tablespoons of sugar
  • Cinnamon
  • 40 grams of chopped dates/raisins
  • 50 grams of jam (any of your taste)

Cooking method

Grease an oven proof dish. Cut the bread into triangles and spread butter/margarine no both sides. Layer half the bread triangles on the base of the dish. Sprinkle 1-2 tablespoons of sugar over the bread. Sprinkle with cinnamon and half of the dates/raisins.

Layer the rest of the bread over the top. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of sugar, cinnamon, and the remaining dates/raisins. Mix the egg/chia seed mixture with 500ml of milk. Gently pour the milk mixture over the bread. Set the pudding aside for 30 minutes to allow the bread to soak up the milk.

Preheat your oven to 180⁰C.

Once the bread has had time to soak, if there is no milk left, gently tip over another 100-250ml depending on how much liquid was absorbed. The amount of liquid you will need will largely depend on the thickness of your bread. Sprinkle the top of the pudding with the remaining sugar and some more cinnamon. Place in the oven and bake for 20 minutes or until the pudding is just beginning to go slightly golden on top. Remove from the oven, gently spread jam over the top and then place back into the oven for another 5 minutes. Serve and indulge!

#2 Milk

Rice Pudding

When I was younger, I had to drink my glass of milk before going to school. It was supposed to make me strong and healthy and, according to the advertisement in that time, milk was “The White Engine”. Whatever all the opinions on that might be right now, milk remains the number #2 of most wasted food products. Every year we pour 5.9 million glasses of milk down the sink. Rice pudding is a classic example of the easiest, filling recipe you can make and drizzled with cinnamon or honey it makes up for the best plate of comfort food out there.

Ingredients

  • 1 liter of milk
  • 100 grams of sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 95 grams of white rice
  • optional: 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • optional: ground cinnamon
  • Optional: roasted nuts

Cooking method

In a large saucepan, combine about 80% of the milk, sugar, and salt. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Stir in rice and reduce heat to low. Be sure to adjust the heat so that it is at a gentle simmer. Stirring occasionally, cook for 50 to 60 minutes. Mixture should thicken up to the consistency of yogurt. Once thickened, remove from heat and stir in the vanilla (optional).

Let cool and then refrigerate. The last bit of milk is stirred in just before serving. Sprinkle with cinnamon if desired. I like to sprinkle some roasted nuts on top, or whatever sweetener I have in my cupboard (raisins, berries, apple etc.)

#3 Potatoes

Potato Soup

5.8 million kilos of potatoes end up in the bin each year. So; before that happens, let’s make this delicious soup of it! Like I promised, it’s easy, fast and only requires a few ingredients.

Ingredients

  • 5 large potatoes
  • 2 green onions, plus more for garnish
  • ¼ teaspoon basil
  • Salt and pepper,
  • Water
  • 650 ml of milk (for the vegan version use any plant-based milk)

Cooking method

Peel and roughly chop potatoes. Discard tops and bottoms of green onions and mince the remaining pieces. Add potatoes and onions to a medium-sized saucepan and cover with water. Boil on high for 30 minutes, adding more water to the pot as needed, until potatoes as well cooked and soft. Remove pot from heat and drain the water over a strainer until it is just under the level of your cooked potatoes. Return any onions and basil the strainer catches to the pot.

Add the millk to the potatoes and mash until mostly smooth, leaving a few small chunks for a hearty texture. Add more milk, a dash at a time, until soup reaches your preferred consistency. Season with salt and pepper to taste, don’t be shy and use a lot. Return pot to the stove and heat, stirring frequently, for 2-3 minutes. Serve garnished with additional green onions if desired.

#4 Cheese

Pasta Quattro Formaggi

First of all: cheese can last long! Probably longer than you think. Also: don’t be afraid of mould on cheese; you can scrape it off and use it for cooking anyway (disclaimer: I’m not a medical practitioner, this is just from my own experience). Remember; with cheese you can make an easy bechamel sauce, to pour over your cauliflower, or use in lasagna. This can be frozen, too, to preserve it for longer. Keeping it simple, I present to you a four-cheeses pasta, Italian style.

Ingredients

  • 1 package pasta (your choice)
  • 240 ml milk
  • 80 grams of soft cheese of your choice (mozzarella, ricotta)
  • 80 grams of blue cheese of your choice (gorgonzola, Danish blue)
  • Pinch freshly ground nutmeg
  • Pinch white pepper
  • two types of grated cheese of your choice (parmigiano, pecorino,
  • Fine sea salt (to taste)

Cooking method

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add whichever type of pasta you choose. tir, bring back to a boil and start timing according to your desired degree of doneness and instructions on the package. While the pasta is cooking, in a small, heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat the milk over medium-low heat. Add the soft cheeses, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon until they are melted and the mixture is homogeneous. Add the nutmeg and white pepper.About 1 minute before the pasta is done, remove it from heat and drain it. Transfer the drained pasta to a large skillet and stir in the milk-and-cheese mixture and the grated cheeses. Cook, shaking the pan continuously and vigorously until the sauce has thickened and the pasta is perfectly al dente and coated in the cheese sauce. Season to taste with fine sea salt.

Serve hot, with additional grated cheese for topping, if desired, and a green salad or vegetables.

#5 Apples

Easy Apple Sauce

1.3 million apples are thrown away. Every. Year. Staggering. And sucha shame for such a great product! Who doesn’t love the apple-break? Store them in a dry and cool place to keep them for longer. Another option is to make apple sauce to go with your vegetables. This is the simplest thing you’ll ever make, maximum outcome. I remember my mom always used to make her own apple sauce and whenever we had dinner guests over it would steal the show.

Ingredients

  • 4 apples, peeled, cored and chopped into cubes
  • 180 ml water
  • 40 grams of sugar (use less or more to taste)
  • pinch of cinnamon (optional)

Cooking method

Can you even call this a cooking method? It’s literally; putting everything in a saucepan, heat it over a medium heat for about 15 minutes and mash with a fork/potato masher. Enjoy!

“Oh c’mon, it’s just one straw” Said 8 billion people.

Straws are made in ten minutes, used up in twenty and stick around in the natural environment for a lifetime. These and other issues regarding waste disposal were discussed at the end of April, on this blog. We dove into the bin, untangled waste, looked into waste streams, researched plastic disposal and drew not-so-rosy conclusions. A world-wide trash epidemic is polluting our groundwater and oceans. Sad news, but that should never be the conclusion! At the beginning of May me and three TBYW’ers took on a challenge to keep as much matter out of landfill as possible: the zero-waste challenge. Halfway through the month I present a personal update and easy tips and tricks for going zero-waste.

As I tend to be  radical, the last thing I disposed on the last day before the journey, was my own trash bin. We took one final walk to the sidewalk in front of my house and after an short goodbye we parted ways. I was ready.

Waste-free travel

My personal zero-waste journey started in Italy. The first day of the challenge was perfectly timed as that was the day that me and my mom went on a week-long camping trip to Sardinia. My first mistake was not telling her about the challenge, as I found a pile of disposable cutlery in her suitcase. Oops! Quickly swapped the plastics for two sets of regular cutlery and we were good to go. Zero-waste on a trip does require some preparational work. Tip one: DIY. To fill your toiletries bag, minimalist packing is the key. I brought my own reusable make-up remover wipes (an old towel cut in round shapes, nothing fancy), DIY waste-free deodorant, DIY waste-free toothpaste (I used the same recipe as deo for efficiency seasons) and a bamboo toothbrush. My deodorant recipe is: coconut oil:baking soda:cornstarch using a 1:1:1 ratio, plus  a few drops of essential oil of your preference.

Depending on your skin, mix and match the ingredients until the effect of the product is optimal for you. I used peppermint essential oil for deodorant because I used the same recipe for toothpaste which is not recommended, I prefer a nice smell such as lemongrass and a bit of tea tree as a deodorant. For travelling, however, I chose efficiency over comfort.

Tip two: pack smart. Bring as much of the essential inventory as you need: think of a reusable coffee-cup, cutlery, sugar, salt/pepper in tiny containers, reusable wipes (an old towel cut into rectangles) etcetera. My dish soap also served the purpose of detergent and did an excellent job. Really, you don’t need a different product for every specific purpose. Such an easy way to save money, weight and space!

Tip three: Leave little room for interpretation when shopping in a foreign country (in which you don’t speak the language). Expressing a clear “no” when at the market the assistants want to put your produce in a plastic bag. Don’t be shy in using non-verbal communication in case you want to use your own reusable linen bag for bread, or your own container to bring olives or cheese. Some shop assistants respond positively, some shop assistant do not approve, to put it lightly. Like when we did our first round of groceries and got our first round of waste in as well.

The lady behind the cashier took the onions and unleashed a waterfall of Italian words that made clear that we weren’t supposed to take loose onions. She stormed out and came back with a plastic net of onions. You can call it a lack of backbone, but we didn’t have the nerve to decline her onions and bought them in the net. I was already proud to resist her clear dissatisfaction over the fact that we hadn’t used plastic bags to cover the rest of the fresh produce in the first place.  In any case: be as clear as you can but don’t worry if it does not work out.

Waste-free alternative to plastic disposable spoons

Tip four: Be easy on yourself. The road towards a zero waste life will only be sustainable if you enjoy it. You won’t enjoy it if you are too hard on yourself, simple as that. It’s fun, it’s an experiment, it’s not about perfection. Don’t think in terms of failing: think in terms of learning curve. This is essential to not feel discouraged if anything unexpected happens. Like when I ordered coffee and got it in a styrofoam cup. Shit (plastic) happens! As long as, instead of using a plastic spoon to stir the coffee you use your sunglasses, it’s not the end of the world. We extended the lifetime of the cup with three rounds of coffee in the morning and wine in the afternoon. After that coffee-flavoured wine (or wine-flavoured coffee) wasn’t enjoyable anymore and the cup was added to the trash.

Zero Waste at home

All-purpose cleaner recipe

After the return it was time to become a waste-free domestic princess. I was already able to do some of my preparations during the first of a series of TBYW zero waste workshops (check out the Facebook for upcoming workshops). The DIY cleaning products workshop provided for the ingredients, bought in bulk from the Soap Queen webshop. We made an all-purpose cleaner and a dish soap.

In the context of step #2 of going zero waste: ‘reduce’, I critically went over my cupboard with cleaning products. Do I really need a different cleaner for the surfaces in my room, the bathroom and the kitchen top? The answer is no. So far All I use is dish soap and the all purpose cleaner and my room is clean so: can confirm, I’m surviving with at least half the cleaning products I thought I needed. This actually goes for many of the different products I use in my life. Once you’ve made an inventory of what those products that you need are, continue to tip five: Make zero-waste swaps. The most important ones to get started are:

eCoffee to-go cup

Tip six is: look up what possibilities there are in your neighbourhood to shop bulk and package-free. The Turkish shops and the markets are by far the most cheap alternatives I have found in my surroundings. For inspiration in the city of Amsterdam, check out https://www.hetzerowasteproject.nl/p/bulk-boodschappenadressen.html to see what you can get where. I went to the Delicious Foods store at the Westerstraat and got a 5% discount for bringing my own bags and jars! Today’s yield: hemp seed, flax seed, tea, chickpeas, coconut flakes, almonds and cashews (the latter three to make my own milk later on: recipes will follow!).

It goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway: once starting this journey, do not start throwing away wasteful products now that you have them anyway. Use it up, recycle or compost what can be recycled or composted. Your ultimate guide to composting you can find here.

My final tip is to shop second hand. Check your local thrift shop to get what you need, or go to secondhand clothes shops. An online possibility with a range somewhat broader than the Episode vintage-style  is United Wardrobe. When you buy second hand, often you have less/zero packaging and you’ll discard the use of resources that are needed to produce new stuff.

Finally, I can’t emphasize enough how this is not something you do overnight, and you shouldn’t expect that. It really isn’t about doing it perfectly, it is about making an educated decision on what and how you consume, and doing that for the better. You have the power to make choices that will lead to a more sustainable system, everyday. We are so privileged to have such a great range of options to make in what we buy and where that comes from, so why not make a choice that contributes to keeping the planet a bit more free from waste?

If you want to know more and follow some great zero-waste workshops, keep an eye on TBYW’s social media channels https://www.facebook.com/TBYWA/ and join the workshops!  

Every single thing which you are holding, sitting on or nibbling is water. In the same way as plants and produce need water to grow, the computer you are typing on required liters of water during its manufacturing. The same goes for the clothes that you are wearing or the soaps and detergents that you use at home. We might not think of the water that is used in these products because we don’t see it bottled or coming out of our taps, but we are still consuming it. Our use of water resources directly impacts fresh water systems which is all the lakes and ponds, rivers, streams, springs, bogs, and wetlands

How much are we consuming?

Well, a lot actually given that from all the water on earth, only 3% is fresh water of which only 1% is readily available for our consumption (FAO, 2013). The Water footprint network (WFN) has estimated the average global consumption to be 1,240 m3 per year per person, with variations across regions and countries (Hoekstra. Y, A et al., 2011). Countries like Peru, China and the Democratic Republic of Congo use on average 600 to 800 m3 of fresh water per year per person. While countries like the USA and Russia have a much higher average of 2,100 to 2,500 m3 per year per person.


© The Water Footprint Network

In 2002 Arjen Y. Hoekstra (a water management professor at the University of Twente) presented the concept of The Water Footprint. This serves as a tool that tells us how much water is required to produce the goods and the services that we consume, be it food, clothing, or the running of a multinational company. It quantifies the impact of humans’ consumption patterns on freshwater system by looking at the full production process from the supply chain to the end user. This means that is looks at the water that is used directly and indirectly in the process. In so doing, making government, companies, and individuals are accountable for their water use (Hoekstra. Y, A et al., 2011).

What is wrong with a large water footprint?

Many people have the misconception that water’s status of renewability means that it is endless source. A renewable resource is not endless; rather it means that the natural rain cycle replenishes the resource. Water is continually moving throughout the planet, with each climate receiving its own kind and volume of precipitation so its availability in regions varies. If a community overuses or pollutes its water source, the source can temporarily run out. However through conservation efforts water resources can eventually be restored.

In the Netherlands the total water footprint is 23,000 million m3 per year meaning that every individual living in the Netherlands consumes 4,000 litres of water per day. However only 5% of this is internal, while the other 95% is external (Ibid). Water use in a globalised world means that products are not always consumed in their country of origin, water consumption is externalised to the countries producing the goods and services. This however does not mean that the consuming countries are not accountable for their consumption.

Rather, global water consumption is tracked at river basin and aquifer level, which is particularly useful to understand the implications of water consumption or pollution within that region. It especially matters in regions prone to water scarcity in countries like Chile, Malta or Kuwait, as further extraction or pollution of their water resources can be detrimental to their national water resources and global water systems.

The water food print is made up of three components; blue water, green water, and grey water.


© The Water Footprint network

So, by knowing how much and where, the water footprint informs us on how better manage our use of fresh water resources.

Why does this matter?

Let’s imagine that all the freshwater available to us for consumption was a 1 litre bottle. This one bottle of water needs to serve all freshwater ecosystems with their species, as well as our growing industries and communities. Global estimates suggest that of this single source of freshwater 70% goes to growing our food, mainly for irrigation in agriculture (FAO, 2014).

Water use in food production varies from crop irrigation to food processing i.e. cleaning, sanitizing, peeling, cooling. It is essential therefore for our food supply chain to have a healthy constant source of fresh water to grow produce and feed animals. Yet, one-third of food produced for human consumption is thrown out (FAO, 2014).

Some of the most commonly wasted food are bread, milk, and apples.

Using the Water Footprint product gallery, we can now look at the estimated water costs of these products.

Bread

The global average water footprint of wheat is 1827 litres per kg

Milk

The global average water footprint of milk is 1020 litres per kg.

Apple

On average, one apple costs 125 litres of water.

Meat

The global average water footprint of beef is 15400 litres per kg.

The Water footprint shows us that it is not just the valuable food being wasted but also such finite resources as water. FAO (2013) estimates that globally, the blue water footprint i.e. the consumption of surface and groundwater resources of food wastage is about 250 km3. While conservative estimates of water loss caused by discarded food indicate that about half of the water withdrawn for irrigation is lost. Once food is dumped, it sits landfills which leads to harmful soluble substances (via leachates and runoff) to seep into the ground. This pollutes waterways and groundwater which negatively impact both land and aquatic biodiversity  (Hoekstra. Y, A et al., 2011).

What can we do to shrink our Water footprint?

There are many positive contributions we can make.

We can start off by calculating our personal water footprint. This will give us a clearer idea of how much water our lifestyle requires and how sustainable this is. Once we know this we can start making more conscious decisions about our dietary choices and consumption habits.

Of course, this does not fall on us individuals. It is also important to voice our concern and let governmental representatives know that we care about water and want it to be used and managed in a sustainable way across the globe. We can do this by electing representatives with a sound water policy and being an active global water citizen.

In that way governments can set up coherent policies which look at multiple industries, and work to ensure sustainable production of produce and services from importing countries. Similarly, industries need to implement resource efficiency in their production process and ensure transparency in their water use.

Happily, this shows how by learning to reuse food, reducing our food waste, and recycling food scraps we’d also be making a contribution to shrinking our water footpring. By fighting food waste we’re also alleviating pressure from water sources and assuring the sustainability of fresh water systems. In our mission to fight food waste we’d;

  • Reduce blue water consumption for irrigation in agriculture
  • Require less blue water for food processing
  • Downsize the amount of food waste in landfills and the resulting leachates and run off
  • Reduce the possibility of contamination of waterways and groundwater 

Looks like a win- win!

Sources

FAO. (2013). Food wastage footprint Impact on natural resources Summary report. FAO.

FAO. (2014). Food wastage footprint Full-cost accounting Final Report. FAO.

Fao. (2014). Mitigation of societal costs and benefits of food waste. Fao.

FAO. (2014). The Water-Energy-Food Nexus; A new approach in support of food security and sustainable agriculture. Rome: FAO.

Hoekstra, A. Y., Chapagain, A. K., Aldaya, M. M., & Mekonnen, M. M. (2011). The Water Footprint Assessment Manual; Setting the global standard. London: EarthScan.

Waste and zero-waste living

 

©The Green Hub

 

Waste. Something we, at Taste Before You Waste, do not like. This week’s blogpost takes a look, not just at food waste, but at all consumer waste. Learn more about waste-free living and find tips & tricks on how to reduce your personal waste.

 

Waste streams  and their disposal

 

Let’s dive into the bin. What is waste? Which waste streams are there? How are each of the waste streams treated?

Waste streams are the routes that waste pass through from the source to:

  • Recovery. Materials of a product are replaced so the product gets another useful purpose;
  • Recycling. Converting waste into reusable materials;
  • Disposal. Removing, destroying or storing waste.

In 2016, 5.0 tonnes of waste was generated per EU inhabitant (Eurostat, 2018). The EU upholds a ‘polluter pays’ principle. This means that for instance the producers of materials have to bear to cost of polluting practices at the production stage. These polluting practices may entail damage to protected species, damage to water or soil damage. By putting a price tag on polluting practices for the producer, the cost reflects in the price that the consumer eventually pays. So, indirectly the consumer also pays for pollution.

 

The way waste is treated varies across categories. Presently only 44 per cent of all municipal waste is recycled or composted (Multimedia Centre European Parliament, 2018). ‘Mixed ordinary waste’ has the lowest recycling rate of all the categories (15%) (Bourguignon, 2015). What is not recycled, is disposed, which unfortunately represents an enormous loss of resources, energy, land, production labour etcetera. On top of that, waste disposal management can have severe environmental impacts. Incineration, for instance, can result in the emission of air pollutants (Eurostat, 2018). EU policy is now geared towards reducing the environmental- and health related impacts of waste and improving the efficiency of resource-use. Over the longer term, policies aim at reducing the amount of waste and promoting waste as a resource: recycling!

 

A policy brief published the 4th of March this year reported on the need to reshape our economy towards climate-neutral and circular. This policy brief prescribes that the percentage of recycled waste should be increased up to 65 percent and the amount of waste that reaches landfills should drop to below 10 percent. Landfills are sites where waste is disposed underground or on the land. In 2016, in the EU, 45.5 percent of waste was landfilled (Eurostat, 2018). The problem with landfills is that they are often so tightly packed that all oxygen is squeezed out, causing organic waste to not compose properly. This landfilling solid waste creates carbon dioxide and methane that can seep out of landfill. Both are greenhouse gasses: they trap heat in the atmosphere which causes global warming (Themelis & Ulloa, 2006). Besides that, landfill leachate (the liquid that percolates through solid material) allows pollutants from the leachate to contaminate groundwater (Lee & Jones-Lee, 2011). So: landfills take up a lot of land and space and can cause air, water and soil pollution.

 

Plastic, not-so-fantastic

 

Finally, in thinking of waste stream management, plastic deserves its own paragraph. The world produces more than 300 million tons of plastic each year. The problem with plastics is that only a fraction of that is recycled: only nine percent of the global production (Geyer, Jambeck & Lavender, 2017). 12 percent of that is incinerated, and 79 percent ends up in landfills or the natural environment. To paint a picture for you: think of one large garbage truck full of plastic that every minute of everyday, dumps its entire holding capacity into the ocean (UN, 2017). If our waste management strategies remain unchanged, by 2050 about 12.000 metric tons of plastic will be in landfills and our natural environment.

 

 

 

 

 

The consumer as part of the solution

 

Unnecessary packaging, unclear or absent waste separation systems or malfunctioning waste management are major contributors to the pollution of our natural environment. These take place on the macro level: institutions decide for the consumer. However, as a consumer you have more power than you think! So let’s consider the role that us individuals have in creating positive impact. And this is where a zero waste lifestyle enters the stage! A great contributor of keeping matter out of landfill is to keep trash out of the trash bin, simple as that. So that’s what we’ll do. What follows now is a beginners’ guide to a zero-waste lifestyle. With easy-to-apply tips and tricks that pave the way for anyone to appropriate a life with less waste.

 

The five waste-free principles

We’ll start with the five principles of personal waste-management:

  1. Refuse. Neglect the things that you don’t need in your life. Refusing goes beyond saying ‘no’ to any marketing folder that is pushed in your hands. Also refuse to take to-go cups, fast fashion, plastic straws and plastic bags. Basically it means minimizing consumption of the things that you have become used to in your daily life. It’s all about the details here, so be mindful of the things you use. Do you really need that keyhanger souvenir while there are still three lying around in your drawer, probably broken into two before they made it to your home country? Probably not. Free toys that come with your groceries? No thank you! That standard pair of plastic cutlery with your to-go meal? Dare to say no and free yourself of useless materials. Naturally, it will leave you with more time and space to spend on the things that DO matter.
  2. Reduce. Reduce what you can’t refuse. This step helps you to focus on the things you need in your day-to-day life. These can be cleaning products, cosmetics, gadgets, anything! Look at all the things you have in your home and get rid of the unnecessary. Sell, hand out to the second-hand store, recycle or give away. Congratulations; you’ve just made the choice to own quality over quantity and life experience over material goods.
  3. Reuse. There are certain things you need when going to the (super)market. Plastic bags are not one of them. Instead, use a canvas bag or containers for your fruits and vegetables, which you can reuse. The same goes for reusable containers to store your food in the fridge, instead of the wasteful plastic cling film to cover yesterday’s late night pizza.
  4. Rot. Composting is a process in which organic waste changes into soil conditioner. The end product: compost, is rich in nutrients and can be used in farming, agriculture etcetera. Whether you live on a farm or in an apartment on the seventh floor, there are always composting options. Keep your organic waste separate and get informed on the composting options in your neighbourhood. Many cities have wormhotels, where hundreds of worms create high-quality, nutrient-rich compost out of your organic waste. Here you can get rid of your organic waste and contribute to the production of nutrient-dense soil conditioner. Via https://wormenhotel.nl/kaart/ you can search for the worm hotel nearby, or start your own worm hotel.
  5. Recycle. There will unfortunately be some products that you use and have to dispose. Always check your municipality’s website to know about the recycling policies.

 

The information that is shared here was mostly derived from desk research. But to actually know what it is like to live waste-free, we will only find out if we go out and try it! So: starting the first of May, me and two others will embark on a waste-free journey that will last one full month. We will test-run all tips, tricks and strategies for a waste-free lifestyle and log on the challenges and everything that strikes us during the journey. During the TBYW summer festival we hope to see you during an interactive session during which all ins and outs of minimizing personal consumer waste will be discussed. But: we don’t want to do this alone! Do you feel like taking on a challenge? Join! Send an e-mail to HannekeM@tastebeforeyouwaste.org and let’s do this, together.

 

Additionally, TBYW organizes a series of workshops that help you on the way to a waste-free life. Here’s the overview of all the workshops that will be given, starting the 30th of April.

 

Date (dd.mm.yyyy) Theme Topic
30.04.2019 Kitchen hygiene Reusable wipes

All-purpose cleaner

Dish soap

14.05.2019 Personal hygiene/protection Toothpaste

Deodorant

Sunscreen

21.05.2019 Soap making Coffee scrub

Bar soap

04.06.2019 Menstrual cycle Menstrual cup

Reusable pads

cramp oil

11.06.2019 Personal hygiene/protection Eye liner

Bronzing powder

Make up remover

 

Stay tuned in on TBYW’s social media channels to find more information soon. We hope to see you at the workshops and don’t hesitate to get in touch and join us in the waste-free month challenge!

 

References:

  • Bourguignon, D. (2015) Understanding waste streams. Treatment of specific waste. EPRS | European Parliamentary Research Service. Members’ Research Service
  • Geyer, R., Jambeck, J. R. & Lavender. K. (2017) Production, use and fate of all plastics ever made. Science Advances, Vol 3 No 7.  
  • Lee, F. G. Lee-Jones, A. (2011) Solid Waste Management: US EPA Lined-Landfill Approach Not Reliable for Protecting Public Health and Environmental Quality.
  • Media Centre European Parliament, 2018/06/04, Circular economy: Europe cleans up its act.  Retrieved from: https://multimedia.europarl.europa.eu/en/circular-economy-europe-cleans-up-its-act_N01-PUB-180504-CIRC_ev, at 09/04/2019
  • Themelis, N. J. & Ulloa, P. A. (2006) Methane generation in landfills. Science Direct, Renewable Energy 32 (2007) 1243–1257

I consider myself to be an environmentalist.

At the age of twelve I found myself in my first environmental march holding a banner over my head and shouting slogans quite shyly. Since then I have been a member in a number of environmental NGOs and participated in events and clean ups. In my daily life I’m loyal to my tote bag and avoid using plastic, I use public transport or my trusted fiets, buy chemical free products, opt for fairtrade and organic products when possible, and most of my meals are plant-based. When elections come along I thoroughly look at environmental policies and projects in manifestos. Also, nature is my place to get away and recharge, there is nothing quite like a stroll surrounded by lush greenery or a dip in the blue sea to make me feel at peace again.

© Oxford Dictionaries

Environmentalism is the philosophy that our environment is worth protecting and we must be involved in its preservation. An environmentalist is then the individual who is concerned about protecting the environment. What I described previously is a very personal form of environmentalism and I’m sure that there are many out there who look at it and think, ‘Well, that’s not how I’d do it!’ I guess there are many different ways in which we can be environmentalists this is depends on our life style and choices, as we try to forge a greener path in an unsustainable system we’re currently experiencing.

The principal reason why we should all be environmentalist is because we are human. We inherently share this common need and responsibility towards the natural environment. This is because we depend on resources and all their services for our own existence, so really the well-being of the environment is also our own. It is only our own failure to not realise this. All the comforts that we have become accustomed to, and the lifestyles which we just think of as normal would not be possible without all these resources. Being an environmentalist is simply the recognition of one’s place and role within this ecosystem and its sustainability.

 

 

Earth day is a commemoration of this common commitment to safeguard our environment from deterioration and degradation. This day serves as an annual reminder of our everyday responsibility as individuals and communities to honour the natural environment in which we live (Earth Day Network, 2019).

 

 

The origins of this day are set in a time of civil protests and growing ecological awareness. In 1969 founder Gaylord Nelson, then a U.S. Senator from Wisconsin came up with the idea to set up a national day focusing on the environment. This came about after the massive oil spill in Santa Barbara, which was then the largest oil spill by waters the USA had suffered, killing birds, sea creatures and fouling coastlines. On the 22nd of April in 1970, twenty million Americans took to the streets to protest the negative impacts of one hundred and fifty years of industrialization and demanded a healthy sustainable environment for their communities (Earth Day Network, 2019).

 

Earth Day 1970 gave voice to that emerging consciousness, channelling the energy of the anti-war protest movement and putting environmental concerns on the front page.

Today over one billion people participate in various events around the globe. People march, sign petitions, organise clean-ups, meet with their elected officials, plant trees. Corporations and governments use it to make pledges and announce sustainability measures. Faith leaders even connect Earth Day with protecting God’s greatest creations, humans, biodiversity and the planet that we all live on (Earth Day Network, 2019).

 

These event spread over 193 countries are coordinated by the Earth Day Network (EDN) . The network’s aim is to broaden that which we understand by the environment, to include our health and communities. This richer definition draws the link between the earth’s and humans’ wellbeing, to redirect greater efforts towards the preservation of the natural environment for a common benefit. The Earth Day Network does this by creating civil engagement at multiple civil levels and working with those who are most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.

Diversifying – Educating – Activating

Each year Earth day puts up a lens to a specific environmental issue so the global population can take a closer look and understand. Earth day 2019 will bring to focus the global species decline, with this year’s theme being ‘Protect our species.’  Presently the earth is experiencing the greatest rate of extinction since the dinosaurs, the difference is that this rapid extinction is a result of human activity (Earth Day Network, 2019). Mainly through our unsustainable agriculture, deforestation, habitat loss, pesticides, pollution, poaching and trafficking of species, and impacts of climate change. While extinction of up to 5 species a year is considered normal, scientists estimate that we are now losing species at 1,000 to 10,000 times the normal rate. For more facts on this, click here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

This rapid species extinction presents a risk as it jeopardizes the balance upon which nature thrives. By wiping out other species we are abolishing our chance for a flourishing and sustainable planet. There is good news though, as this extinction rate can still be slowed down, and many of our declining, threatened and endangered species can still recover however this requires for us to collectively demand immediate action.

With this year’s theme the Earth Day Network aims to

  • Educate and raise awareness about the accelerating rate of extinction of millions of species and the causes and consequences of this phenomenon.
  • Achieve major policy victories that protect broad groups of species as well as individual species and their habitats.
  • Build and activate a global movement that embraces nature and its values.
  • Encourage individual actions such as adopting plant-based diet and stopping pesticide and herbicide use.

What the first Earth Day back in the 1970’s, was able to do was to bring together people from all walks of life. The realization of the common threat but also the collective potential to come up with solutions and address these environmental issues acted as an impetus to the modern global environmental movement. People are the heart and the conscience of this movement, and it is people who see that environmental issues are taken by their representatives and acted upon. So, all of us; professionals, pensioners, students, and all others are all environmentalists in our ways.

However, if you feel that you could use with some pointers, the Earth Day Network provides some simple Earth Day Tips!

Sources

Earth Day Network

How the 1969 Santa Barbara oil spill sparked Earth day

 

World Disco Soup Day 2019

Afbeeldingsresultaat voor fill bellies not bins

Code Orange! © Pebble Magazine

The 27th of April is the day that for 364 days a year, the Dutch are patiently waiting for: Kingsday. On this day the streets turn orange, people awake from their hibernation, crawl out of their caves, pet the dust off of their summer jackets and hit the streets where orange flags, beers, music and flea markets await.

Taste Before You Waste will not let this day go by unnoticed. We will join forces with the Slow Food Youth Network, Café de Ceuvel, Food Circle, Sapient Social & Environmental Enterprises, Guerilla Kitchen Amsterdam and Healthy and Affordable and turn Kingsday into World Disco Soup Day.

What?

World Disco Soup Day started seven years ago in Berlin as a protest soup where 8000 people were given sous from rescued products (Slow Food, n.d.). The protest soups soon began to spread to ask attention for a pressing problem: our failing food system. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization, over one-third of all the global production of food for human consumption is wasted (around 1.3 billion tons annually) while at the same time, 840 million people suffer from hunger, globally (FAO, 2015). Not only does the actual food go to waste, also think of all the energy, land, water, seeds and labour that is lost!

 

 

The idea of organizing a protest soup was soon picked up by the Slow Food Youth Network in Brazil. The Slow Food Youth Network, a non-profit organisation that fights for a more fair and sustainable food system, took on the concept and organized a national Disco Soup Day. The snowball effect that followed caused the World Disco Soup Day to grow out to be one of the biggest internationally organized events that fight food waste and in the extension of that; impacts of climate change.

All over the world, youth addresses the problem of food waste by collecting food that would be wasted but was still perfectly fine to use. Delicious soups were created from the rescued food, and a disco element was added. Because why not celebrate that wasted food actually tastes great, while collectively contributing to the battle against food waste?

 

 

World Disco Soup Day 27th April, 2019

This Kingsday-edition, the collective of organisations that were listed above will dance to the music of DJ Stefnitz, listen to the jokes of MC Benji B and taste the soups made by you, the welcome guests! Join the event and eat the soups, all for free.

To prepare for our kingsday-edition of World Disco Soup Day we need your help and ask you to take part in our #soupchallenge. Share one of your favorite soup recipes and tag #verspillingsvrij #wdsd19 #sfyn #samentegenvoedselverspilling #votewithyourfork #fillbelliesnotbins @sfynamsterdam @slowfoodyouthnetwork @deceuvel @tbyw.  

We recommend you to use as many rescued vegetables as possible and your soup might be the inspiration for the soup of the day at World Disco Soup Day. So: post your recipe, post a photo of the dish and insert the tags and if your soup is chosen, it will be made and served to all the party people at the Ceuvel!  

 

We are super excited for this day full of great, rescued food and dancing. Join use and let’s get wasted!