Before you throw away that perfectly edible bag of salad because its exceeded its best before date or you pick up that tempting buy one get one free offer at your local supermarket despite knowing you really won’t eat that much food, you might want to read this article.
Global food waste needs to be taken seriously. One of the world’s biggest contributors to global warming, not only could you save hundreds of pounds per year by trying to be a little less wasteful, you could even help make the planet a more inhabitable place to live for generations of people in the future. As the population is rapidly increasing and the demand for food becomes greater and greater, the problems associated with food waste aren’t going away anytime soon. But what can be done to help prevent this global crisis?
Well, the good news is that just by simply raising awareness of this issue, the rate of household food wasted was reduced by 15% between 2007 and 2012. But it’s not just consumers that need to make a change in their homes, after all, an estimated 20 to 40% of fruit and vegetables are rejected before they even reach supermarket shelves simply because they don’t meet the supermarket’s strict beauty standards despite being perfectly edible.
So read five of the most frightening facts about food waste across the world and in the UK below and start making the necessary changes to your shopping and eating habits that will hopefully help to significantly reduce the percentage of food wasted across the planet every single day.
1)One third of the food produced globally for human consumption every year gets lost or wasted. The annual value of this food is $1 trillion and weighs in at roughly 1.3 billion tonnes which is approximately the weight of 260 million elephants. In fact, nearly all of the world’s close to one billion hungry people could be fed on just ¼ of the food wasted by the US and Europe every year.
2) Global food waste results in 3.3 billions tonnes of greenhouse gases every year and wastes over ¼ of the entire world’s agricultural land. Shockingly, an area larger than the size of China, the fourth largest country in the world, is used to grow food that is never eaten. If global food waste were a country, it would be the third biggest emitter of greenhouse gases after China and the USA. Reducing food waste is considered to be the third most effective method of tackling climate change.
3) We grow more than enough food to ensure no one in the world needs to go hungry. The UN even estimates that if farmers were to feed their livestock on agricultural by-products and food waste, that enough grain would be freed up to feed an extra 3 billion people. This would be more than enough food to feed even the expected population of the world in 2050, which is estimated to fall just under 10 billion people.
4) In the majority of developed countries, almost 50% of all food waste happens in the home. The average UK family wastes £800 pounds per year to food waste, which collectively totals £15 billion pounds. The average UK family throws away the equivalent of seven meals every week, or £70 worth of food every month. Every day just in UK homes we throw away 20 million slices of bread, 4.4 million potatoes, 1.2 million tomatoes, 5.2 million glasses of milk, 2.2 million slices of ham, 0.9 million bananas, and 0.7 million oranges.
5) A quarter of the world’s fresh water supply is used to grow food that is never eaten. This is especially terrifying when you consider that water demand globally is projected to increase by 55% between 2000 and 2050 alone. Agriculture accounts for 70% of the world’s freshwater use and in order to feed the world’s rapidly growing population, food production will need to grow by close to 70% by 2035. According to a recent study coming out of NASA, the world’s freshwater sources are being drained faster than they are being replenished and some even hypothesise that increased water shortages around the world will eventually lead to water wars. By 2025 (just 5 short years), its thought that 50% of the world’s population will be living in water-stressed areas. Although many people don’t realise this, as Jay Famiglietti, senior water scientist at NASA warns, “the water table is dropping all over the world. There’s not an infinite supply of water”.