Think of that peanut butter sandwich you threw away at lunch because you ‘didn’t feel like it’. Or maybe that half-eaten banana you tossed in the bin because of you ‘didn’t like the texture’. Seriously? I mean, come on. It all adds up. Did you know that Australia wastes 5 million tons of food per year? That’s enough to fill 9,000 Olympic sized swimming pools!
I will be discussing an issue that affects each and every one of us. Food wastage. It’s quite shocking. The government must do something to lower the level of food wastage in Australia. In Australia alone, millions of people live under the poverty line, and cannot afford to buy let alone waste food. Something must be done to ensure that edible food is not thrown out, when it could be given to those in need. The fact that wasting an item that has absolutely perfectly fine is a travesty and is morally and ethically wrong.
In Australia, figures display that food wastage is growing rapidly and has the potential to threaten our environment. 8 billion dollars worth of edible food is thrown out each year (foodwise, 2017). These numbers will only increase. When we waste food, we’re not just wasting food. We’re also wasting all the resources that went into growing it. We are wasting precious water. We are using unnecessary fuel and land. We are wasting money. You are wasting your money. Food waste is decomposed in a landfill without oxygen, creating an anaerobic sequence that produces methane, which is approximately 25 times more harmful to the atmosphere than carbon dioxide. This contributes to the destruction of the ozone layer (Thinkeatsave, 2019). Do you want to destroy our planet? It’s crazy to think that such horrific repercussions can stem from you tossing out a half-eaten apple. So, when we throw food away, we’re wasting precious resources, and also creating toxic greenhouse gasses in the process. With a future of more people and fewer resources, we cannot afford to throw our natural resources out with the garbage.
I’m sure you’ve all heard the saying, ‘Charity begins at home’. Obviously not! The Australian Council of Social Service’s 2018 report found that there are just over 3 million people (13.2%) living below the poverty line of 50% of median income – including 739,000 children (17.3%). The report further found that one in eight adults and more than one in six children are living in poverty. Many of those affected are living in deep poverty – on average, this is a staggering $135 per week below the poverty line. When Australian citizens are in financially trying times, they simply cannot afford to buy food. This leaves adults, families and kids to starve. However, the most shocking thing of all is the fact that huge cooperations and companies throw away perfectly fine excess food. The food that could go to elevating hunger. Every problem has a solution. As Australians, it is very easy to throw our hands in the air and say, “that’s too hard”. But we are a resourceful nation, how can we not find the resources to feed hungry people. As Australian citizens, we must help each other out. Or else this cycle of poverty will never stop.
Did you know that there is a way you can save your money, our farmlands and fuel by doing one single thing? Stop throwing away food that is fine for consumption. The fact you waste an item that has absolutely nothing wrong with it is an abomination. It just doesn’t make sense. The sense of entitlement that people have, they don’t realize that they have all of this amazing fresh produce as a privilege. They view it as an entitlement. If that’s the way we view the world, of course, we will not be satisfied with what they have. Due to this factor, copious amounts of money are wasted. According to LiveTribe, Australia alone discards up to $8 billion worth of edible food each year. The average family spends $279 a week on food and drink. However, each household throws out at least $1036 of groceries each year (ASIC’s MoneySmart, 2016). This money could be used to feed the average household for over a month! Or pay off 6 months your electricity bill (Foodwise, 2019).
Now, what must be done to fix this issue? Big corporations such as Woolworths and Coles can donate their excess food to churches, or homeless shelters. Food retailers can reduce prices of that imperfectly shaped vegetable and donate unsellable yet edible surplus grocery food to those in need. We are hitting two birds with one stone. Food that is not fit for human consumption should be reused to feed animals, for example, pig farms. Bakers delight significantly discounts their goods, in the last hour of the day, other companies can implement this strategy to further to reduce food wastage.
Australians need to be more aware of their purchasing habits because we tend to overstock on items we buy, don’t check the fridge before going shopping and buy too much because we don’t stick to a shopping list. Or go shopping when we are hungry and cook too much.
Clearly, we are unthoughtful when it comes to shopping habits. Just as we plan for our daily activities; like work, sport, and school we must prepare in advance what we will be consuming each week. For those who are time-poor or those who don’t know what to cook, there are organizations such as Youfoodz or HelloFresh, that deliver nutritious, fresh product straight to your door that has the exact amount of food you need inside. They even support local farmers.