Commit to the Zero Waste Challenge
When we consider the amount of natural resources and energy that it takes to get food from the fields to our forks, each one of us needs to commit to being a responsible consumer. Spending money is a responsibility, since the act of spending has the potential to influence social, economic and environmental factors on a global scale. Living in the spirit of a ‘conscious consumer’ means looking beyond ‘finding the best deal’ to thinking about the impact that your purchase has on the environment and the lives of the chain of people involved in getting the food from the ground to your table.
According to the FAO, 33-40% of food is lost or wasted during production, transportation, and processing and through household waste. Almost 30% of the world’s agricultural land grows crops that are wasted, which equals the total land area of China, Mongolia and Kazakhstan.
Since 2011, the Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance (EAA) has promoted an annual ‘Fast for Life’ observance on Ash Wednesday and during the Lenten period. This “Fast” encourages individuals, churches and communities to learn more about the effect of unequal consumption patterns on global food security and justice, and to take steps to change how and what they consume. For some of us, this means addressing our own consumer habits, for others it may be working with local farmer networks or advocating with government for support to minimize harvest, storage losses and call for greater investment in post-harvest infrastructure.
Through this effort, EAA has aligned itself with the members of the Zero Hunger Challenge under the goal – Zero loss or waste of food. In particular, EAA has taken joint actions with Food Tank, and with EAA members such as Church World Service and Canadian Foodgrains Bank.
What actions does EAA encourage its members to take?
- Get involved with the chain of people involved in getting food from the ground to the table: To provide a starting point for dialogue, EAA has provided Waste not, Want not Questionnaires. Form a study group to look at the responses and come up with action that your community can take to reduce waste. Why not push for a community compost initiative or lobby for a waste reduction law?
The EAA Secretariat joined in this action by running a series of interviews with Swiss-based actors, from managers of large supermarket chains to food distribution centres, to see where food is being lost.
- Plan ahead: EAA’s Meal Planner was designed to encourage individuals to make a shopping list and plan their food purchases before heading to the farmers market or grocery store. Sticking to a list helps reduce the risk of impulse buys or buying unnecessary large quantities, which then usually turn into waste.
- Take stock of your fridge: Rotate food that needs to be used first to the front of your fridge and freeze leftovers. Taking a proper inventory of your fridge will help you to use up produce before it expires.
- Join others in prayer for sustainable consumption: Organize a worship service on Ash Wednesday or on another day in Lent using the EAA liturgy or other worship resources to reflect on the inequalities that allow for hunger and over-consumption in this world.
- Host a movie night: Select a movie from EAA’s extensive food waste learning library and watch it with your family or people from your community.
Simple actions such as these will bring us one step closer to reducing food waste and one step closer to achieving the goal of Zero Hunger.
This post does not reflect the views or opinion of the Zero Hunger Challenge, and does not imply endorsement by the United Nations.