The food waste phenomenon
If you’ve been reading our CSR dedicated articles in Missing Links, you would know that we take waste very seriously. We’re not just talking about traditional waste - although it’s the main topic of this conversation. We also view waste differently - wasted talent, wasted opportunities, wasted time, and wasted potential.
Food waste is especially material in this part of the world, especially around this time of the year as the month of Ramadan is being commemorated. The Arab region generates an enormously huge amount of food waste which happens to skyrocket during the month - at a very alarming rate to say the least.
According to official figures, the quantity of domestic waste dumped every year in Bahrain is around 554,000 tons, on average. In Ramadan, food waste generated specifically in Bahrain exceeds 600 tons per day.
With the rise in living standards and hyper consumerism, individuals have become more and more wasteful, contrary to the basic principles of sustainability. The food waste phenomenon and staggering amounts of food waste is evident across all socio-economic levels. Unfortunately, during Ramadan people tend to buy more. What needs to change is our attitude to become one of less is more. Instead of overcrowding your iftar table with more food than people can eat, it is a matter of behavioural change.
It’s a paradox really, globally we waste four billion tons of food every year while 870 million people in the world remain under-nourished (WFP, 2016). According to the UNEP, every year, consumers in rich countries waste as much food (222 million tons) as the entire net food production of sub-Saharan Africa.
As an individual, you can’t stop this phenomenon, but if we all do our share, it will have a positive impact. Small changes to the way you shop and eat, such as improved meal planning, willingness to buy the so-called ‘less attractive’ fruit and vegetables, familiarising yourself with food storage rules and freezing, eating leftovers and donating will make a huge difference.
During this time also consider these specific tips:
- When you plan to go grocery shopping, make sure you go ready. Prepare a shopping list before going to the supermarket- it stops you from buying in excess and helps you buy actual quantities especially when it comes to fruits and vegetables.
- Instead of discarding old fruits and vegetables, freeze them or make smoothies, stock, purees, compotes, and jam.
- Where possible, freeze any leftovers or keep it for your next meal. If you eat out, get your leftovers packaged up so you can eat them later or give it away to someone who needs it.
- Check the food items in your fridge daily to ensure you use it before it becomes waste. Organise your fridge so the items that expire first are in sight.
- For a week, track your habits and evaluate your waste to change your behaviour for better.
Remember, non-perishable and unspoiled perishable food can also be donated to local food banks such as our very own partner Conserving Bounties as well as soup kitchens and local charities or labour camps.
May 15, 2019 at 10:48 am, May said:
Great tips especially during Ramadan when food waste is at an ultimate high!
May 15, 2019 at 10:51 am, Ahmed Abdul Ghaffar said:
I can’t believe how much food is wasted each year – that’s crazy! Thanks for the information and Ramadan is actually a great opportunity to put food waste reduction into practice.
May 15, 2019 at 10:54 am, Yasmine said:
Auditing your waste is such a great way to start.