Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Food waste in the UK

Not everything at Climate Camp is planned with military precision. On Saturday I noticed a little tent had popped up adorned with signs made out of cardboard, its contents of fruit spilling out onto the grass. A few campers were busy chopping up the fruit, piling it into a pedal-powered blender and dishing it out for free.

Turns out the fruit, which was stacked in boxes inside the tent, all came from the bins of nearby wholesalers where it had been thrown out for imperfections despite being perfectly edible. Only days before the camp a couple of activists had the bright idea of commandeering said fruit and turning it into smoothies at the camp to bring attention to the vast quantities of waste produced in this country.

What follows is lifted from the leaflet refered to at the end of the video:
In the UK the food production industry accounts for 14% of energy consumption by UK businesses and 7 million tonnes of carbon emissions per year. The UK's carbon footprint is over 500 million tonnes. Individuals account for 45% of this. The average individual in the UK has a carbon footprint of 13.5t/yr and 21% of this figure is from the consumption of food, drink and consumables. We can reduce our carbon footprint by making changes to our food consumption choices.

The average household that does not recycle household waste throws away 8.1kg of food a week (420kg a year) of which 4.8kg a week is avoidable. Unless composted or used to create biogas (Ludlow Biocycle) household waste will end up in landfill sites, responsible for generating 3% of the UK annual greenhouse gas emissions. Food production chains are energy intensive and accountable for significant GHG emissions at a national and global level. In the UK, the food industry is also an insight into houw accepted wastage is in Western culture. There are absolute limits to how much pollution the Earth can absorb and how much natural resources can be provided. It is our responsibility to employ low impact and sustainable choices in all areas of our living including making careful decisions about the food we eat while also demanding a large scale reduction in waste, and resisting the capitalist luxury obsessed belief system, which encourages us to expect the luxury of abundant choice, to want more than we need and to maintain a lifestyle that perpetuates unsustainable consumption rates.

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