Why food waste can be one of the most pressing climate concerns


Our challenge today should not be to grow more food but to feed more people while ensuring that what we are already producing is not wasted. From delivering leftovers to those in need, to freezing food and shopping smarter, there are many steps we as consumers can take to make a big change. According to reports, it is estimated that a third of all the food produced in the world is wasted. According to a report by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), around 1.3 billion tonnes of food, including fruits, vegetables, meat and dairy products, are lost or spoiled during distribution or thrown into restaurants, schools or social events. Surprisingly, these could be calories to feed every undernourished or hungry person on the planet. However, food waste today is not only a humanitarian concern, but also an environmental one.

Wasted food produces greenhouse gases responsible for global warming

Did you know that food that goes to the landfill and rots produces methane – an even more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide? When we waste food, we not only deprive a hungry human being of a meal, but we also waste all the energy, labor and water needed to grow, harvest, transport and package it. Besides the United States, India is also one of the countries where a lot of food is wasted at lavish weddings or festivals. This is an alarming concern for a country whose population continues to increase and whose problems of malnutrition or undernourishment persist. According to a 2011 FAO assessment, global food loss and waste also means a missed opportunity for the economy and food security, apart from the waste of natural resources used for food production.

According to a UN report, household food wasted in India was estimated to be around 68.7 million tonnes per year, while around 931 million tonnes of food was wasted globally in 2019, enough to make seven times around the Earth..

Global food waste carbon footprint

A report published in the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) indicates that about 6 to 8% of all greenhouse gas emissions from human activity could be reduced if we stopped wasting food. Although meat contributes relatively little to global food waste in terms of volumes (less than 5% of total food waste), it has a significant impact on climate change, contributing over 20% of the carbon footprint of food waste. total. The consumption of meat is responsible for the release of greenhouse gases such as methane, CO2 and nitrous oxide. These gases contribute to climate change, like global warming. Meat and dairy products account for about 14.5% of global greenhouse gas emissions, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). This is the reason why the United States and China contribute to greenhouse gas emissions due to the high consumption of non-vegetarian foods.

What can be done on a personal level to avoid food waste

First of all, avoid buying too much, always make a shopping list. Plan ahead and buy only what you need. Store food properly and use your freezer to avoid food waste. Be creative with the leftovers; there are many recipes for making sumptuous meals with leftover food. Rather than throwing in overripe fruits and vegetables, you can mix, cook, or boil them to make sweet smoothies, breads, jams, soups and sauces. They will always taste good!

What the world can do to reduce food waste

Fortunately, many NGOs and nonprofits engaged in humanitarian work strive to achieve zero hunger through zero food waste, which is in line with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Apart from that, simple concepts like avoiding overeating can reduce food waste. There must be a call to action to reduce food waste and philanthropic organizations can use their resources in the right direction through awareness campaigns, making the best use of social media to achieve the goal of zero hunger.


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