Everywhere you turn these days you are hearing about food waste– but what is all the hype about? We are exploring ways to reduce your food waste, and tips for composting at home.
Food Waste in Canada
In 2015, the United Nations created the Sustainable Development Goals, with a target to achieve a sustainable world by 2030. (1). Goal 12 is to “ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns”(2). One of the ways this target is deemed complete is to cut food waste at the retail and consumer level (3).
This year in Canada a report was released that stated more than half of all food produced in Canada is wasted. Luckily, Canada’s National Zero Waste Council has stepped up to ensure that Canada has a concrete strategy to tackle this issue (5).
Why food waste is bad for people + the planet
When food waste biodegrades (breaks down) in a landfill, it releases a greenhouse gas known as methane which is a major contributor to climate change (6). To give you some context, methane is 26 times more powerful than carbon dioxide – the abundant greenhouse gas contributing to climate change (7). In Canada, about four percent of our country’s greenhouse gas emissions are generated from the breaking down of organic matter (8).
Although these stats are alarming, they don’t even represent the other greenhouse gas emissions that were created by these foods during the production and transportation stages before the food becomes waste.
Okay, so I assume that some of you are reading this and getting a little worn down and wondering what the point is to composting if biodegrading food is so destructive to the environment- if this is you, keep reading!!
Why composting is better
One of the biggest distinctions between landfills and composting facilities is that composting facilities are aerobic (waste is processed in a way where oxygen is present) whereas landfills are often anaerobic (there is no oxygen) (9). This is extremely important because the presence of oxygen in compost does not allow methane-producing microbes (tiny organisms) to exist (10). The microorganisms that do exist in compost are beneficial for various reasons (11). One, they raise the temperature of the food waste when they are breaking it down which kills pathogens that could cause disease (12). In addition, the compost that is created from food waste is full of nutrients that supports the production of healthy plants (13).
The biggest takeaway here is that if you do create food waste, make sure it is going to compost! That being said, however, there is an even bigger takeaway: prevent food waste from happening in the first place!
How can you prevent food waste?
1. Meal plan! When you know what you are making in the week, you will only buy the ingredients you need
2. Recover food that is going bad
store them in cold water in your fridge, either half or full submersed, and they will perk back up!
Cut up the left overs and bake them to make croutons for soups or salads
(almost) empty condiment bottles
Store them upside down so that the sauces drain to the top. This will allow you to get every last drop out of every bottle.
fruit that is browning
Cut out the parts of the fruit that are still good and toss them in a smoothie.
3. Know the difference between Best Before Dates and Expiry Dates.
4. Cook with the food you didn’t know was edible, such as carrot or beet tops! Try this recipe from Love Food Hate Waste Canada
- 1) United Nations. “About the Sustainable Development Goal.” Sustainable Development Goals. https://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/sustainable-development-goals/
- 2) United Nations. “Goal 12: Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns.” Sustainable Development Goals. https://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/sustainable-consumption-production/
- 3) Ibid.
- 4) Janus, Andrea. “More than half of all food produced in Canada is lost or wasted, report says.” CBC News. https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/food-waste-report-second-harvest-1.4981728
- 5) National Zero Waste Council. “A Food Loss and Waste Strategy for Canada.” National Zero Waste Council. http://www.nzwc.ca/focus/food/national-food-waste-strategy/Documents/NZWC-FoodLossWasteStrategy.pdf
- 7) “Composting to avoid methane production.” Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development. https://www.agric.wa.gov.au/climate-change/composting-avoid-methane-production
- 8) Ibid.
- 9) ?
- 10) “Composting to avoid methane production.” Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development. https://www.agric.wa.gov.au/climate-change/composting-avoid-methane-production
- 11) Ibid.
- 12) Ibid.
- 13) Ibid.
- 14) Ibid.