Sunday, 24 February 2013

Think.Eat.Save - The UN Environment Programme


                                   (picture from www.eatwell.in)

Reports differ – but it is estimated that world wide from 30% - 50% of food is wasted (Smithers, 2013).  According to the Wall Street Journal waste occurs from the beginning of the food process.  Farmers are unable to put slightly damaged or imperfect food in for sale to the general public as the supermarkets and apparently their customers don’t like it (Patterson, 2012).  Supermarkets go on to waste 50% of produce (Smith, 2013), which is then wasted by individual households that chuck a third of the food that comes into their home (Wall Street Journal, 2010). Now it’s been thought about, food waste starts right from where the food is picked to the people that pay money for food to throw away – whether in a restaurant or at home.   What can be done about this?

Changing the way we buy food and where we buy food can make a difference.  Personally I have tried to cut down on buying in supermarkets as I think they treat farmers unfairly.  Buying direct from a farmers market is now my preferred method of food shopping.   Shopping at the farmers market is a dream – I look forward to going to the farmers market and having a good old chat whilst paying reasonable prices for organic fairly traded food.  Thinking about what I eat and planning a weekly shopping list is the important part here – it means that minimal waste comes out of our house  (although I usually make a vegetable soup or put leftover vegetables in the compost) and I can feel relatively guilt free about the food I am buying.  Shopping at local markets or farmers markets (or even trying to grow food in your garden) along with planning food could make a big difference to individual waste on food.     

Trying to get supermarkets to change their policy could help too.  By shopping at farmers markets and avoiding using shops that have a negative effect on food waste and production is already a good ploy to get supermarkets to change their ways.  But, writing to them and asking them to change their practise could help too.  Sovereignty.org has lot’s of further information on supermarkets and what malpractices they could improve on.

Contacting governments and local MPs to help create a change could help too. Current government policies on food especially that food is allowed to be on the stock exchange needs to be reconsidered – have a look at the World Development Movement page on food speculation for more information.  If governments made a change to free market policy and started to moderate or ban certain items on the stock exchange – such as food, we could be on track to creating a fairly stocked global food market.  Government backed initiatives for reducing supermarket waste and allowing food that would usually be thrown away to be given to those in need, such as the homeless could really make a difference too.

If the public in more developed countries made the effort to really think about what they eat and make changes on a personal, local and global level through rallying against food waste, food waste could be saved.   In turn money will be saved and hopefully could be put to good use helping those starving to death.  World environment day is on 5 March 2013 - join the UNEP in making a change!!    



References

Patterson, O. (2012) Defra, UK - Owen Paterson’s speech at the Women’s Institute food security event [online]. Available from: http://www.defra.gov.uk/news/2012/12/07/owen-paterson-speech-womens-institute-food-security/ (Accessed 24 February 2013).

Smith, J. (2013) Half of the world’s food is thrown away? Come on, supermarkets: give us ‘imperfection’ [online]. Available from: http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/half-of-the-worlds-food-is-thrown-away-come-on-supermarkets-give-us-imperfection-8446646.html (Accessed 24 February 2013).

Smithers, R. (2013) Almost half of the world’s food thrown away, report finds;  Environment; guardian.co.uk [online]. Available from: http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2013/jan/10/half-world-food-waste (Accessed 24 February 2013).

Wall Street Journal (2010) Throwing Away Our Food. Wall Street Journal. [online]. Available from: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703440004575548391291973152.html (Accessed 24 February 2013).

Thursday, 21 February 2013

How to reduce plastic use - The Midway Trailer

The great gift of human beings is that we have the power of empathy.

- Meryl Streep 

I watched The Midway trailer video about "plastic beach" today (as embedded below).  It made me think about my plastic use and also made me wish that humans made the time to use their empathy in order to fight for a good cause. Such as cutting down on plastic use due to the terrible consequences of which only one example is shown in the trailer. GO ON WATCH IT!



This video prompted me to re-post the link on my facebook wall and to start thinking about my plastic use, again.  A small project that I have already started is trying to REALLY cut down on my plastic use.

I mean I call myself environmentally aware and friendly - I shop mainly at the farmers market on Saturdays, try to cook all of our meals from scratch, use a bread machine, carry reusable bags with me, never throw away a plastic bag after the first use, have reusable water bottles etc.  But then I started reading about buying in bulk (a switchover we haven't done YET) and how that could help cut down on plastic use.  This led me onto thinking about other throw-away plastic goods I have like my razor blades and pads that I use during my "time of the month" (for want of a better phrase).  So here are some more ideas below on how to cut down on plastic use:

1) Razors

I found some great articles about these...my favourite one is here.  Basically safety razors don't involve any plastic and should be able to be used until the day you die...unless you leave to someone else of course.  The razor is replaceable in it, but apparently it lasts longer than the throw-away blades and you can get a cleaner and sharpening tools to make them last longer too.  There are for sale in antique stores and on eBay - I just searched for safety razor and loads came up.  Just think about how much plastic is used for each throw-away razor top or disposable razor.  And YES, men AND women can use these razors (ok, I'm really not sure how I will get on with delicate areas...*cough* but I will see)

2) Period Pads

Yes, tampons and pads aren't all exactly biodegradable...I know I've seen one or two floating in the sea along with the disposable nappies.  What are the alternatives?  The tampons that are 100% cotton will eventually break down into the earth - however with modern day tampons there are a lot of plastic extras such as the packaging (now for each individual one) and the applicators too.  Most pads have plastic in them and therefore take 1000s of years to decompose.  Solutions:  using tampons or pads that are designed for the eco conscious such as NatraCare.  Or one can purchase a mooncup - which although made of plastic is a "menstrual cup" that should last a lifetime.  What is it?  It's a little plastic goblet shaped cup that fits in the same space a tampon would go and it collects the menstrual blood.  It has to be emptied, washed and boiled in between uses.  Lip So Facto has a much better and well researched review here.  OK, they aren't going to be for everyone, but it is a small way to save the planet.

I have some more ideas but the clock is a tick-tocking and I need to finish my research for my essay. More on this soon...