Small steps to sustainability: How to reduce food waste and plastic usage

Photo by Magda Ehlers from Pexels

By Patricia Bianca S. Taculao 

In our present world, the preservation of the environment continues to be a pressing issue as it still feels the negative impact of human activities and extravagance. Among the environmental concerns that are being discussed today is food waste. 

All over the world, one-third of the food produced for consumption never reaches our tables. Oftentimes, the food included in the number would be thrown away for various reasons, thus causing resources such as money, packaging, manpower, agriculture, and water. 

This occurrence happens on a global scale so how can we as consumers and private individuals join in the movement of reducing the amount of food that we waste?

Last January 29, World Wildlife Fund Philippines (WWF-PH), a non-profit government organization, held a webinar hosted by WWF-PH Ambassador and former Miss Universe 2015 Pia Wurtzbach wherein the speakers shared tips on how to reduce our carbon footprint. 

Tips on reducing food waste 

According to Lorayne Roque, the sustainable consumer specialist of the Sustainable Diner Project of WWF-PH, there are some easy steps to reduce food waste that consumers can try at home. Here are these tips:

1. Give ‘ugly produce’ a chance

Big grocery stores and markets often remove “ugly produce” from their selection of goods. This is because they think that it will not sell as compared to those that fit the market standard of beauty. 

But to avoid food from going to waste, Roque said that the “ugly produce” should not be overlooked as it is safe to consume and has the same health benefits as the pretty ones.

2. Create a shopping list or plan your next meal

To avoid overbuying, have a list of what you need to buy ready when you hit the grocery stores. This will also help in budgeting since it lets buyers distinguish what they need from what they don’t.

3. Check your storage

Before buying food, remember to check what products you already have in your pantry or cabinet. Determine which ones you need to restock and apply a first in, first out system where the first thing you buy should be the first thing you consume to keep it from expiring.

4. Know your serving sizes

One common way that food gets wasted is when we put too much on our plate than what we can consume. To prevent this, know how much you or the people around you can eat in one seating.

5. Be creative with your next meal

Preparing meals can be a good way to unleash your creativity. Use colorful produce to make the meal stand out or appetizing. You can also use leftovers and turn them into new meals that everyone will enjoy.

6. Donate excess food

If you’re decided that you can’t finish all the food on your table, look to those who might need it and donate excess food to them. Not only will you be able to lessen your food waste, but you’ll also be helping somebody else in the process.

7. Start your home garden

Another way that you can reduce food waste at home is by starting your home garden. This way, you can grow only what you need while conserving the money and time that usually goes to market visits. 

8. Compost

Keep your food waste from going to waste and put them to good use as compost for your garden. Check the internet for the steps on how to properly compost food waste for the best results. 

9. Share tips with others

Since you’re already aware of these steps that you can take to lessen food waste, try to involve others by sharing the information with them, thus increasing the number of consumers and intensifying the movement. 

Easy ways to reduce plastic usage

Aside from food waste, plastic usage is also a pressing environmental issue since the non-biodegradable material is one of the top pollutants in the world. 

But how can we reduce our plastic usage when almost everything around us is made of plastic? 

Ina Guingona, the policy officer for WWF-PH’s No Plastics in Nature Initiative and Plastic Smart Cities, offers three approaches to tackling the problem. 

The first step involves companies to exercise their corporate social responsibility by identifying how they can reduce and eliminate the use of plastic, providing sustainable options to their consumers, and partnering with recyclers for proper disposal or waste management. 

The next step then falls onto the hands of the consumers who can start by switching from plastics to reusable materials. For instance, shoppers can use eco-bags rather than the store plastic, or they can switch from using plastic bottles to reusable bottles such as tumblers. 

Lastly, Guingona said that small efforts that can be done every day can also make a difference in reducing plastic usage. This includes less online shopping, refusing single-use items, and supporting sustainable brands. 

Saving the world may seem like a big task to fall on anyone’s shoulders. But going one step at a time and acting as a community rather than individuals can help make a difference for the environment.

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Patricia Bianca S. Taculao
Patricia Taculao, or Patty as she likes to be called, is a content producer for Manila Bulletin Digital Lifestyle. She graduated from University of Santo Tomas with a bachelor’s degree in Journalism. She loves to spend her free time, reading, painting, and watching old movies.

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