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  • Kathy

The Ethics of Food Waste

The new generation of Millennials who are stepping into business leadership roles are very concerned about the environment.  These leaders, as well as a growing proportion of the food consumer base are voicing the need for companies, products and services to be sustainable and environmentally responsible.  They also have the desire to feel “well” and “healthy” and are willing to make shifts in their own lifestyle and choices to make this happen.

These new mindsets and purchasing behaviours could provide the perfect backdrop for encouraging wide spread shifts around food waste.

Food waste is an enormous global issue. It must be tackled as such, in order to see the benefits from societal shift. Here is the current status-quo if no one changes their individual behaviours:

  1. We over-purchase, over-cater, overconsume.

  2. Food is wasted.

  3. Food is thrown out and causes environmental effects.

  4. The demand of food continues to increase as this behaviour of consumption does not change.

  5. Meanwhile, our topsoil continues to erode (we are riding on statistics that show that about 15 cm of topsoil is lost with each kilo of food that is produced).

  6. As our populations continue to grow around the world, supply of food must match this. Our inconsiderate disposal of resources will probably mean that at some point, we will be unable to keep up.

  7. The food that we are able to produce will be less nutrient rich if we keep taking from the Earth – food is only as good as the soil that grows it.

When you start digging into food waste, you uncover some pretty complex ethical issues. A huge topic, the following is a summary from my journey of discovery. The most basic ethical questions that I see people wrestle with are:

  1. It’s my money and I can choose how to spend it (and waste it); and,

  2. Even if we reduce food waste in one area of the world, how does this benefit other communities which need food the most?

It’s my money and I can choose how to spend it (and waste it)

I understand that it’s your money and that you also spend your money on other potentially wasteful things.  But- I ask- what’s the problem with being mindful about how much you buy?

Even if we reduce food waste in one area of the world, how does this benefit other communities which need food the most?

I also understand that it’s hard to see the bigger picture – i.e. how does reducing food waste in your home affect the communities that don’t have access to fresh food?  It is foreseeable that if you contributed to the larger picture by ensuring that food prices don’t rise as sharply in the short run due to a compromised environment and food supply,  that poor communities will have a better chance to access food in the future.

The food waste conversation runs deep and the concept may not be for everyone.  But if the paradigm shifts, then perhaps you will be happy to join the non-wasting masses.

It could start with something as simple as a scraps bin on your bench, or a list of what you actually needed from the supermarket. 

#ethics #foodwaste #lifestyle