Food Waste Harms Our Environment

Allow me to start this article with some data and statistics because it seems like a smart thing to do. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) states that food production accounts for:

– 25% of the earth’s surface,

– 70% of water consumption,

– 80% of deforestation,

– and 30% of the greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change.


I hope you are impressed and alarmed at the same time but if you are not, here are more information to get you worried:

FAO also states that producing one liter of milk requires 1,000 liters of water, which means that pouring a glass of milk down the sink is equivalent to dumping 250 liters of water. Throwing out a hamburger is like throwing out more than 60,000 liters of water.

Are you scared yet?

You might wonder what could have caused food wastage. It is mainly caused by consumer behaviour and absence of communication in supply chain. It is not uncommon for shoppers to over-purchase or over-react to expiry dates whereas retailers often reject huge quantity of palatable food on the basis of quality assurance. 54% of food wastage happened during the production, handling and storage at harvests whereas the remaining 46% occurred during the processing, distribution and consumption of food.

Of course, food wastage does not just affect the environment. The immediate economic cost of food wastage is approximately USD $750 billion per annum. Contrast this figure with the fact that one in every seven people go hungry and more than 20,000 children under the age of five die from hunger every day.

This issue caught the attention of three Costa Rican singers – Debi Nova, José Cañas and Manuel Obregón, who composed a song against food wastage called “Alimento para el alma” (“Food for the Soul”).

Unfortunately you and I are only bathroom singers who could not contribute to this issue the same way Debi Nova did. So what can we do?

  1. Purchase wisely

Do you really need to buy out the store every time you visit the supermarket? Buy only what is necessary. That way, you will not only be saving the environment but your wallet, too.

Also, you can forget about dieting.

  1. Plan better

It doesn’t matter if you are a private chef in Singapore, a hawker or a housewife, we can all use a little more planning. Don’t cook more than you can consume. If you do, make sure you freeze the leftover for your next meal.

  1. Support distributors of organic

Even though McDonalds and KFC might taste better, organic food has less impact on your health and environment.

Even if you don’t really care about the environment, you do envy those bodylicious models on magazine covers, don’t you?

Here’s a little inspiration for you to choose organic food.

Food waste harms our environment 1


  1. Read food labels carefully.

Understand what you are eating. Many people throw out food because they don’t understand the meaning of the food label. Do you know that sodium is another word for salt? Do you understand the color-coding of front-of-pack nutrition label? (Red means the food is high in fat, saturated fat, sugar and salt whereas amber means medium and green means low). Or ingredients are listed in order of weight?

On a completely irrelevant side note, do you know that if an egg floats in a bowl of water, the egg is bad?

Sorry. We can’t resist the urge to throw in some tangential but impressive information.


  1. Compost what you don’t eat.

Relax. It is not as difficult or troublesome as you imagine it to be. All you need is a huge bucket and food waste (which can be almost anything except meat waste, fish waste, daily product, grease and oil as they break down slowly, attract rodents and smell terrible) and time. There are some other things you can do to prevent odor or fruit flies but essentially, all you need are the three items mentioned above.




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