WWF supports ‘waste not, want not’ WED message
This year’s theme, Think.Eat.Save, highlights the negative environmental and social impacts our food choices can have, as a result of the amount of waste generated throughout the value chain. Each year as much as one third of the world’s global food production goes to waste. In South Africa, where some 60% of households experience food insecurity, about ten million tonnes of food waste is generated every year, according to the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research.
“Everything we manufacture and consume has a direct link to the natural environment from which all ingredients are drawn. It takes energy and water to grow, harvest, process, manufacture, and transport products. Food production not only depletes resources but air, water, and soil are often polluted in the life cycle of the product. We can all dramatically reduce our environmental impacts through the food choices we make and by reducing the amount of food we waste and empty calories we consume,” explains WWF-SA Market Transformation Manager Tatjana von Bormann.
By reducing food waste we reduce the volume to landfill as well as our personal water and carbon footprint. Studies show that agricultural products contribute to 92% of the water footprint of humanity. It takes between 2 000 and 5 000 litres of water to grow enough food for one person per day. Consequently, the first step to reducing water use at a household level should be to eliminate food waste.
Von Bormann elaborates, “WED calls on us not only to reduce our individual food waste, but also to reduce our consumption of high-impact foods. Of these, meat and dairy products carry the greatest environmental burden. A kilogram of beef can require anything between 15 000 and 70 000 litres of water to produce while livestock farming accounts for approximately half of food-generated greenhouse-gas emissions (GHG) and 18% of global GHG emissions. In addition, WWF’s Life Cycle Analysis of milk revealed that it takes about 1000 litres of water to produce one litre of milk.”
To assist consumers to make sustainable choices WWF has established the Southern African Sustainable Seafood Initiative (SASSI) as well as the Biodiversity and Wine Initiative (BWI), a partnership between WWF and South Africa’s wine makers. These initiatives identify the best choice with the least negative environmental impact.
“Many of the problems facing the world today are not within our power to change but individual action can make a difference in changing the way food is grown, processed and consumed. By considering more carefully the food we eat and eliminating wastage we reduce not just our negative impact on climate, water, biodiversity and land but also help to ensure that we are able produce sufficient, affordable food for all. Our food choices can change the practices that harm our health, our planet, and our quality of life,” concludes von Bormann.