Don’t bin it: Campaign highlights households’ role in food waste
Who would you guess is the biggest producer of food waste – supermarkets? Restaurants? Farms? In fact, according to data from 2021, it’s not any of those, but rather households. Czech initiative Zachraň jídlo has a campaign starting in September which aims to help people reduce the amount of food that ends up in their dustbins.
Many people are surprised when they discover that one third of all food produced for human consumption never makes it into our mouths. What’s more, of this food waste, according to the 2021 UNEP Food Waste Index Report, 61% is generated not by supermarkets, restaurants or packing plants, but by us, the consumers – i.e., households.
This, of course, has a negative effect on the environment, and is one of the many factors contributing to climate change – according to the same UNEP report, food waste alone generates 8–10% of global greenhouse gas emissions. This is because at every stage of processing, from cultivation at the farm through to export, import, storage in warehouses, transport to the supermarket and then to our homes, a huge amount of natural resources such as water, power, and fuel are used. And when the food at the end of it all ends up in our trash, all the work by the people involved in that supply chain and all the resources that went into producing it were essentially spent for nothing.
Rescuing food from the dustbin may not only be good for the planet, but also for your wallet. According to a survey by the Institute of Sociology of the Czech Academy of Sciences, the average family could save up to CZK 8,000 a year by reducing waste. Particularly now, with food prices skyrocketing, this may be the opportune moment for such a message. Founder of Czech Initiative Zachraň jídlo (Save Food) Anna Strejcová says that rising inflation can even be seen as a good thing for reducing food waste.
“People of course are trying to save money, both by buying cheaper products, but also by wasting less food. Paradoxically, when food is more expensive, food waste goes down, because people realise that it doesn’t pay. So it sounds terrible to say it, but from the food waste perspective, inflation can have a positive effect.”
Zachraň jídlo has been active since 2013, trying to increase public awareness and sharing tips for how to preserve and rescue food. Their new campaign Září proti plýtvání (September Against Waste) aims to make navigating through the host of information available on their website simpler and easier, as Anna Strejcová explains.
“People can sign up for the challenge now using the form on our website zachranjidlo.cz. We will send newsletters every week in September with basic tips on how to buy, preserve and cook food so that nothing is left over.”
Partly as a way of celebrating the UN-designated International Day of Awareness of Food Loss and Waste on September 29, the campaign also includes a competition with the possibility of winning prizes from Zachraň jídlo and its partners – rules and prizes to be announced at the end of August. By registering you will receive practical tips on preventing food waste in your inbox at the beginning of each week, such as how to quickly measure out one portion of rice so you’re not always left with too much, or how to extend the life of vegetables. The first week will start with shopping, then will move through storage, on to preparation, and finally to cooking and what you can do with leftovers.