Bon Appetit! Buen Provecho! Mahlzeit! And welcome to Think.Eat.Save, a global campaign launching TODAY to change the culture of food waste. No matter how sustainably we grow our food, if it’s not eaten, it’s not a good use of resources. The good news is, reducing food waste is about eating-- eating what you buy, and buying only what you eat. It’s also about ensuring that everyone on the planet has the opportunity to partake. So, grab a fork and dig in to the wealth of resources this campaign has to offer.
I’m thrilled that today, a pressing global problem is finally getting the global attention it merits. This afternoon, at the Palais de Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, we heard from world leaders such as Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary and UNEP Executive Director. “In a world of seven billion people, set to grow to nine billion by 2050, wasting food makes no sense – economically, environmentally and ethically,” Mr. Steiner said.
He’s right. With an expected 9-10 billion people eating off the planet in 2050, many high-level discussions have presented a choice between converting more native forests and grasslands to grow more food and growing more food on the same land. Each of these pieces may likely be necessary, but many would argue we produce enough food today to feed that many people. Focusing on reducing the waste in our food system will be an important component of any successful plan to feed the future global population.
The Think.Eat.Save. campaign is led by UNEP, FAO and Messe Dusseldorf, with other partners such as WRAP UK and Tristram Stuart’s organization, Feeding the 5k. The campaign aims to accelerate action and provide a global vision and information-sharing portal for the many and diverse initiatives currently underway around the world.
“In the EU we have set ourselves a target to halve edible food waste by 2020 and to virtually eliminate landfilling by 2020,” said Janez Potočnik, European Commissioner for the Environment: “Less food waste would lead to more-efficient land use, better water resource management, more sustainable use of phosphorus, and it would have positive repercussions on climate change.”
The EU has set such an aggressive goal because they know this is a problem we can fix. Many of the solutions are already in practice around the world, which means we could make a huge dent in food waste just by replicating what’s already proven successful.
In the U.S., for instance, a system called LeanPath allows restaurants to track the waste in their kitchens. Using this system, a dining hall at one college reduced its kitchen waste by 40%, amounting to savings of $1600 per week. Were every commercial kitchen to use a waste tracking system like this, just imagine how quickly enormous gains could be made.
Yes, we have many of the answers. What we need is action. By providing tools, resources, and motivation, Think.Eat.Save. could very well be a key engine in driving this problem to the ground. I challenge you to read through its materials. I challenge you to take the pledge. And, once you’ve done that, I challenge you to eat.
Dana Gunders, Project Scientist, Food and Agriculture, Natural Resources Defence Council