Merry compost and a food waste free year

Author: Tobias Heeringa
2 minute read

As we enter the holiday season people all across the world come together for the festive celebrations. It’s a lovely time to meet with family and friends to enjoy the holiday break. Undoubtedly the best part of the end of the year, whether it be Christmas, Chanukah or just holidays in general—is the food. A good indulgent feed is a vital part of any good family get to together. But with so much effort going into preparing the meal, why spoil the occasion by contributing to festive food waste?

Food waste statistics are staggering. In Australia alone annual food waste amounts to 5 million tonnes, enough to fill 9,000 Olympic sized swimming pools. Conversely—nearly 4 million Australians experience food insecurity each year; many of which will experience this struggle over the holiday period. The reality is, we can produce enough food to feed the world, but our current system means that millions are starving while our leftovers are being wasted in obscene amounts.

It’s not just an issue of hungry bellies though. Food waste is also a massive contributor to climate change. Greenhouse gases from food waste contribute to 8% of total global emissions. If global food waste was a country, it would be the third largest emitter in the world. That’s absolutely insane! We need to start significantly reducing our impact and providing for those in need. But this will require the global efforts of each and every individual as well as a step up from industry and government to deal with commercial food waste.  

A big part of the problem also comes from commercial malpractice. Supermarkets are serious culprits who frequently throw away an obscene amount of food, whether it’s based on ‘best before’ or the produce is just ‘ugly’. And what about the leftover scraps on the plate of your cafe brunch? While many cafes are advocating sustainability through their business practices—many are not. Check out Higher Ground in Melbourne and give them an applause for installing 20 state-of-the-art worm farms in their venue!

But the future is not all bleak! There are solutions out there. Education on how we can better address food waste in the home are available to us, such as the Food Know How Toolkit by Yarra City Council. There are also incredible organisations like OzHarvest—distributing food surplus to those who need it most and redirecting it from landfill. Local councils are getting in on this too with kerbside food waste collection being trialled and practiced in parts of Australia and across the world. If institutional composting and food waste recycling can link up with hospitality, supermarkets and the domestic home, it has the potential to make some serious impact.

For the individual, it pays to remind ourselves how valuable food actually is. It’s value doesn’t just end once we are full, a lot of energy has gone into producing that Christmas dinner! Not to mention the leftovers are still a valuable resource… we have so many better ways of using leftover food than just sending it to landfill. Check out these great recipes that demonstrate the many ways we can cook amazing meals that are specifically designed to minimise food waste. We need to act as conscious individuals and be mindful when we are shopping or cooking of how much we need so we can avoid food waste in the first place. We need to make sure unavoidable waste can still be used to feed ourselves, feed others, feed your animals and feed the compost! Now that sounds like a jolly present to the planet we can all get behind.

Serena Lee