This week’s problem is food waste. And we have news of one exciting solution – and some top tips on a whole range of other solutions we can try at home and at school.
WoW! reporter Isabelle has been talking to Sarah Chouraqui. She’s an expert on wasting food. Or, rather, she’s an expert on saving food from being wasted!
Global tummy trouble
We’ll explain how she does that in a moment, but first let’s hear about the problem.
It’s a biggie. The numbers are just mind boggling.
Here’s one: 1.3 billion tonnes. That’s how much food we reckon we waste in the world every year. That’s about 160 kilograms – as heavy as 3 grown-ups - for every single adult, child, even babies, on the planet.
Here’s another: One third. It’s not a huge number in the billions. But hear this. Those 1.3 billion tonnes of waste are fully a third of all the food we grow in the world.
Less waste, less warming
Yet millions of people go hungry each day, while others eat too much and get fat.
But wasting food isn’t just a problem because it’s sad. It’s a problem because putting food on our plates is one of the biggest causes of global warming. But the good news is we don’t have to eat less to slow climate change – just waste less of what’s grown.
One or another, scientists reckon, farming causes up to 30 percent of greenhouse gases caused by people.
Here’s how filling our tummies gives planet Earth a belly ache:
In some parts of the world, farms are using up stocks of water much faster than the rain is putting it back. So we could make our land much drier.
Forests are important for cleaning our air. Trees soak up carbon dioxide and give off oxygen. To clear land to grow crops, or grass for cows to eat, people are still cutting down trees. That means more carbon dioxide (CO2), the main greenhouse gas.
Farming cows, pigs, sheep and so on for meat, milk, cheese and so on means billions of animals burping out methane – another gas that is causing climate change.
Farms use vehicles and machines that burn oil, giving off CO2. And lots of food goes around the world in ships and trucks. More CO2.
The food we don’t eat gets dumped and rots. That makes loads more methane.
One solution - bag it, don't bin it!
So you can see that growing food and especially wasting it is a big problem. A lot of the waste happens on farms and in getting food to people. But a lot of it happens closer to home.
That’s where Sarah Chouraqui comes in…
Sarah runs a company in France called Too Good To Go. Their solution to food waste is an app for telephones. In lots of countries, the app “rescues” food that would otherwise go in the bin in shops.
You see that lots of food has a sell-by date on its label. After that date, shops can’t sell it. And you can see that fruit and vegetables, even without labels, start to go bad.
At the end of every day, shops throw away loads of food they haven’t sold because they won’t be able to sell it the next morning – because of its sell-by date, or because it’s starting to look less good.
But if shops use the Too Good to Go app, they can find customers who want to come and buy baskets of food at super low prices.
The company, which the founder Lucie Basch set up 5 years ago when she was just 23, now rescues from the bin about 100,000 baskets of food every day across Europe. Instead of going to waste, it goes into people’s kitchens.
Lucie have just started Too Good To Go in America, where people waste even more food than Europeans.
Sarah's top tips
But Sarah says you don’t have to buy your food from Too Good To Go to make a difference.
She told Isabelle her top tips for cutting food waste and fighting global warming:
“Children have a huge role to play,” says Sarah. You can change things that you do yourself and teach your parents and teachers how to cut waste.
Sarah’s tip #1
Don’t go food shopping when you’re hungry! Of course, you’ll be tempted to buy more than you can really eat.
Sarah’s tip #2
Make a shopping list! (And after you’ve checked out what’s already still in the kitchen cupboards and the fridge.) That way you’ll be less likely to buy too much.
Sarah’s tip #3
Don’t try to find the yoghurt with the longest sell-by date! At the shop, it’s easy to try and spot the food that will last longest when we get it home. But if you plan to eat it soon, it’s better to choose food that the shop will have to throw away in a day or two.
Sarah’s tip #4
Don’t grab the fruit and veg! Touching fruit and vegetables speeds up how quickly they go off.
Sarah’s tip #5
Love the ugly ones! If vegetables are going to be cooked, you don’t have to pick the freshest. Spare a little love for the ones that are maybe going a bit off. Take them home!
Sarah’s tip #6
Cook creative! If you like helping in the kitchen, why not try to come up with recipes that can use up what food is left before rushing out to buy more food.
Sarah’s tip #7
Hold the bread! In schools, one of things that gets thrown away most is bread. Often kids pile up bread on their tray because they’re worried they might finish their meal hungry. Sarah says schools should encourage children to take less bread at first – and make it easy for them to come back for more if they’re still peckish.
Sarah’s tip #8
Get your school’s waste down! Apart from bread, schools can do a lot to cut down waste. See-through waste bins help people realise how much is wasted. How about a competition to guess the weight of the waste bin at the end of the week? Or a competition to see which classes can waste less?
Sarah’s tip #9
Feed the plants! Food scraps and waste makes brilliant compost. Start collecting it and it will feed flowers and other plants in a garden.
If you’ve got ideas, or maybe you’re already doing great things to cut food waste, share them with WoW! here. And check out our story on how school canteens around the world are cracking down on the bin-it culture!