Extinction Rebellion Malta, alongside Betapsi, Criminology Students’ Association, S-Cubed, and Studenti Ħarsien Soċjali hosted a demonstration on Saturday 4th December about food waste called ‘Stop the Waste’.
Together with the co-hosting organisations, Extinction Rebellion Malta pushed for the following proposals:
- The setting up and funding of permanent infrastructure that would allow small scale supermarkets to be able to donate food that is unsold and fit for human consumption.
- The setting up of infrastructure that will allow large supermarkets to be able to provide the donations to the national food banks.
- Government provides incentives to the relevant stakeholders and entities who take part in such schemes.
- Compelling all supermarkets, both large scale and small scale to stop providing and using single-scale plastic bags whilst providing alternatives.
- An educational campaign regarding the importance of reducing food waste to safeguard the planet in all educational institutions.
During the demonstration, various talks took place, each giving a different reason and perspective on food waste and why it takes place, as well as how it could be reduced.
Food waste and reasons why it occurs were first presented under a psychological perspective. The reasons presented behind this perspective were mainly the buying of food in abundance for convenience or to provide for the family. Moreover, the lack of self-awareness was highlighted; people are often unaware of the negative consequences of their own actions. This is due mainly to the lack of education regarding this topic. There is also lack of awareness with regards to how much food gets wasted in households and by the country. However, individuals reported feeling of anxiety when food is wasted, further showing that the awareness that food waste is harmful is present, despite the lack of action towards it.
Meal planning is considered one way in which food waste can be reduced. In regard to this, statistics show that in Malta only about 20% of the population created a meal plan. However, according to the same statistics 47% wished to do the same – this goes to show that the good intentions are there, so with better education or enforcement a change for the better may be seen. To see this change, however, contrary to what many may think, punishment by the state is not the best way to go about it- instead, an incentive to change should be provided.
In foreign countries such as Italy and the UK, there are various implementations which are set up in order to reduce food waste, such as public fridges in Italy or the donation of leftovers and foods which are close to spoiling. In the UK, on the other hand, there is an app which will inform individuals when a restaurant will be disposing of leftovers, at a small cost. More innovations such as these are needed locally to help create a better future in this regard.
Distribution of food worldwide may allow for a better equity and usage; globally more than enough food is produced already, the issue lies in where it is produced and where it is consumed. In Malta, the predominant cause for food waste was the cooking of too much food, leading to a third of foods made ending up as waste. Globally, about 17% of foods are wasted.
There are various issues which come along with food waste. Global warming, more than people realise, is one of them – this is due to the greenhouse emissions created due to decomposition, amounting as much as that in India. Aside from global warming, there is also a humane aspect which needs to be taken into consideration, and that is the fact that around 1 billion individuals globally lack regular access to food, this number could be reduced if only we as a global society come together to reduce food waste globally.
Food waste can be avoided by implementing several actions, even small ones. Such actions can be as simple as using all foods, through donations to food banks and so on; limited purchases and production of foods will also be of help, this can be done even just by simply buying selected items which one knows they will consume. Moreover, there are alternative methods to use undesirable foods, such as composting, biofuel or animal feed. Another way to implement the reduction of food waste is the education on food consumption, this should be implemented as early as teaching it in elementary schools. Lastly, there would be the total switch to veganism, or the partial switch- trying as much as possible to reduce the consumption of dairy and meats. This would be a solution because the processing and production of meats and dairy leads to wastefulness, as well as greenhouse emissions.
In order to change our current situation for the better there is a need for actional responsibility of citizens – meaning us
. As citizens of the world, we need to take this matter in our own hands and actively act on it, by making real changes in our everyday lives, and take responsibility for our actions. This is needed, so that the same mistakes done by our predecessors, due to their ignorance on the matter, are not repeated.
It is possible to have both, a world without hunger, and a world without waste.