Here’s one easy way to tackle climate change that you may not know about
Cartoon by Luo Jie, China Daily
What if we told you that there was a way that you could help tackle climate change with very little inconvenience to your daily life?
This way has a greater impact than recycling, is less inconvenient than taking public transport, less muddy than planting trees and far cheaper than installing solar panels.
So what is it?
Stop wasting food!
Why? Wasted food generates a huge amount of greenhouse gas, which are major contributors to climate change.
To put it into perspective, the issue is so bad that the emissions from global food waste and loss are four times as much as those produced by the aviation industry.
How does food generate greenhouse gases?
When food is thrown away it ends up being buried in a landfill. Here it decomposes without oxygen, and releases methane – a harmful greenhouse gas which is by some measures 84 times more potent than carbon dioxide. This greenhouse gas traps and absorbs heat which slowly over time is raising the earth’s temperature.
Carbon emissions are also produced whenever food is grown, transported and sold.
Whilst the carbon emissions from one person’s food waste may not seem significant, when we add it up on a global scale the emissions from food waste are huge. One-third of all of the world’s food goes to waste, which accounts for 6.7% of all carbon emissions. If food waste was a country, it would be third behind the US and China in terms of carbon emissions.
In New Zealand, food waste audits show that the average family throws away three shopping trolleys worth of edible food every year. On a national scale, that’s 122,547 tonnes of avoidable food waste just from homes alone, going to landfill every year. When we consider all the emissions created in producing and disposing of this food this creates a whopping 325,975 tonnes of CO2 emissions. To offset that, we would have to take 118,107 cars off the road for a year or plant 130,390 trees.
In the battle to tackle climate change, reducing food waste is one method which has been largely overlooked in favour of other things like using less petrol and electricity. But compared to other things you can do to minimise your carbon footprint, reducing your food waste is the low hanging fruit of the climate change problem.
Reducing food waste is something everyone can do, every day.
Every time you sit down to eat you have the chance to help tackle climate change. Every time you shop for food, make your child’s lunchbox or cook a meal, you have the opportunity to make a difference. It really is as is simple as eating your food.
Whilst reducing your food waste won’t solve our massive climate change issue, it is a good place to start.