Globally, we throw away 1.3 billion tonnes of food annually…ironically, there are around 1.3 billion people going hungry every day. At home, Ireland households and businesses waste one million tonnes of food each year…that’s 2 ½ times Croke Park, filled to the top. Meanwhile, the world is growing exponentially with population levels expected to reach over 9.5 billion in 2050 and we won’t have enough food to feed them unless we do something now.
Food security and food waste are two sides of the same coin.
- In Europe, 80 million people live below the poverty line and among them, 30 million suffer from malnutrition. (Source: Eurostat and European Congress of Experts on Nutrition, 2009)
- In Ireland, at least ten percent of the population face food poverty each day.
On the other side of the coin is the unpalatable situation where
- 89 million tonnes of food are wasted in Europe each year and
- Over 1 million tonnes are discarded in Ireland annually.
Food waste also has severe environmental implications.
- Embedded water, energy, packaging and transportation costs are lost once a food product is thrown away, unused.
- In landfills, rotting food also releases methane, a destructive greenhouse gas.
It has been estimated that each kilogramme of food waste costs almost €3. This accounts not only for disposal but each of the steps involved with the food cycle in a business – purchasing, storing, preparing, cooking and serving. (www.stopfoodwaste.ie)
Wasting food wastes valuable resources and money.
- VOICE was the lead in organising the Feeding the 5,000 Dublin event in November 2012 where we highlighted the plight of food waste by demonstrating that a delicious meal could be created with food that would have been rejected by supermarkets…so called ‘ugly vegetables’. We fed nearly 5,000 people and had food give-aways, cooking demonstrations and an information tent. See blog here.
- VOICE has taken the concept of Feeding the 5,000 down to the local level by creating ‘Food Rescue’, where local communities work with their local shops and individuals to make a neighbourhood meal out of food that would have been thrown away along with other educational activities. See blogs.
- VOICE has worked with local communities to take the food waste challenge to reduce their food waste by 5 kg/week, thus saving money. Families can save up to €800 a year by reducing their food waste through meal planning, better shopping and storage techniques and creative cooking.
- VOICE has teamed up with Dun Laoghaire County Council to run a brown bin pilot programme in the Beacon South Quarter Apartments.
- VOICE is working with other organisations to raise awareness of food waste and looks to practical ways to reduce such waste and to redirect surplus food to Foodbanks. Bia Foodbank, Food Cloud and Stop Food Waste.
Voice and TCD Enviro Soc host a Food Rescue Lunch at TCD!read more
Tweet Mindy O’Brien, coordinator of VOICE, spoke to Noel McGuinness of NearFM on January 13th about waste prevention in 2017. Asumptions about cost, excessive bureaucracy, convenience, practicality…all are delved into in this interview which explores food waste packaging, the repair industry, and the use of reuseable coffee cups! Contrary to Noel’s assumption, food waste packaging is actually disimproving as we are now seeing “bananas, avocados and oranges in plastic”. Fruits with such think skins surely don’t require an extra layer of plastic, a plastic that is in fact very difficult to recycle. What’s more, the packaging may encourage us to buy more than we need, causing us to waste food a few days later – not what we need when we know we Irish are throwing out 25% of our fruit and veg. However, many people out there assume that packaged food is generally cheaper. In fact, the opposite is more often than not true; it is often cheaper to buy unpackaged! Mindy’s example of packaged cheese costing 50 cent more per kilo than the smaller, unpackaged amount would really make one think. What’s the lesson in this anecdote? Check what’s cheaper – don’t assume buying food pre-packaged will save you money. 2017 will hopefully see a surge in the repair industry in Ireland. Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) take broken electrical items, but will not repair them. However, Repaircafe will. This is a free service where for one day, a group of volunteers come together to repair things for free. Ireland had its very own Repair Cafe until “prohibitively expensive insurance” and liability issues unfortunately forced it to close. This is an example of bureaucracy putting a spanner in the cogs of transition – however luckily a new endeavour has sprung up in Ireland! Put a note in your diary for March 11th 2017 – when Fixjam will come to Jigsaw, Dublin. The repair industry exists, and if it’s going to grow, we need to use it. Finally we got to the issue that is sending 650 million cups to landfill a year, and that’s just in Ireland. Yes, you guessed it – the scourge of non-recyclable coffee cups. A budding campaign is beginning in Ireland, the Conscious Cup Campaign. This group of individuals that met on the Zero Waste Facebook page are taking on the industry, by urging cafés and shops to accept reuseable cups and offer a discount to those who use them. A simple tweak, but one made all the more difficult to implemen,t as the problem is in part down to the coffee suppliers who often supply free cups with the coffee. The question is – will cafés take a hit to the wallet if they can provide a social and environmental benefit? We hope so, but only time will tell. So what can you do today to begin the change and spread the trends that will only grow in the future? Why not invest in a practical Stojo? While you’re at it, plant the idea of getting a discount for using your own cup in your local café? The more the idea is normalised, the more palatable it will become for the industry. Let us know how you get on! Leave the plastic in the supermarket and opt for unpackaged – your bank account will...read more
The Ballymore Eustace Tidy Towns group took part in one of our Food Rescue Events with top chef, Gillian Duff.read more
VOICE had a great day at the ‘Waste Not Want Not’ fair on October 18th helping to spread the word about food waste and its impact on the environment.read more
Come and join the Ballymore Eustace Tidy Towns Group for a Food Rescue Event on Friday, 21st October at 7:30 p.m.read more
Students take Food Waste Reduction Challengeread more
VOICE had an extremely busy weekend, bringing ‘Food Rescue’ to the Flavours of Fingal & the Taste of Wicklow.read more
Ballon’s Street and Food Rescue Festival a Huge Success!read more
With Easter celebrations came lots of yummy food and treats. Don’t let them go to waste!read more
April 1st may be April Fool’s Day, but in Lovely Leitrim, we turned it into April Food Dayread more