Our land is the bedrock of healthy food systems, biodiverse ecosystems and living things. We rely on healthy soil not just to produce food, but also to combat climate change. Countries, businesses and NGOs have been meeting this month at a United Nations conference to explore solutions that protect, restore and ensure the sustainable management of our land. One key solution is to adopt a circular economy that takes unavoidable food waste and puts it back into our land as part of food production.
As we all know, food waste and loss is a global issue. While we produce enough food to feed 10 billion people (more than are currently on our planet!) around 40% of it goes to waste. This causes approximately 10% of all climate-warming greenhouse gas emissions, but also comes while 836 million people go hungry every day.
The circular economy is essentially an economic model to ensure no waste is produced between the start and end of a product’s lifecycle. Products and ingredients are constantly utilised in the circle and are never truly wasted. The UN has outlined the growing strain on resources, especially land, as they are becoming more and more difficult and costly to access and protect. The linear model of “take, make, dispose” is not economically or ecologically sustainable anymore. The goal of circularity is to unlock maximum value from inputs and outputs for the longest possible time.
A circular model can have a large impact in reducing food waste and enabling a shift towards zero hunger. This can be done through various methods including turning food waste into organic fertiliser and animal feed, using all aspects of a fruit and vegetable (including seeds to regrow the plant) during cooking and of course adopting a more planet-friendly diet. Here are a couple of examples of how your own actions can contribute to a shift towards circularity:
Composting is a great and effective way to reuse your food scraps in an eco-friendly way. At the farm level, it’s one way of adopting nature-positive food production practices, to ensure that growing food enriches nature, rather than it taking all the goodness and giving nothing back.
It’s also a great way to practice circularity at home, and get your kids involved to teach them the importance of preventing food loss and waste. If starting from scratch, you’ll need to choose a container, as well as biodegradable materials such as newspapers and cereal boxes, to ensure your compost doesn’t start to smell bad. Start to accumulate your kitchen scraps, which contain nitrogen that encourages the composting process once they are mixed with a little soil and the newspapers or cardboard.
This compost is nutrient-rich and is a fantastic natural fertilizer for that herb garden you have probably been meaning to start. This method is a great way to help the circular economy as it ensures no food scraps go to waste, and that any you do have help to enrich the soil.
After preparing a delicious meal, you are often left with tons of food peels and scraps that very often get thrown in the bin. Well, those scraps can often be used to grow new plants! While many of these projects may start indoors, planting fruit and vegetables that you’ve grown from scraps can help improve soil health in your garden or farm, especially if you’re growing a wide variety of foods.
You can also stop your scraps from going to waste by using them in other dishes, like crispy potato skins, a hearty soup using the shells of peas or reusing the lemon rind as a serving dish The scraps are usually great sources of fibre and nutrients and can help improve your health while also reducing pressures on our planet to produce more and more food.
These are just a few tips on how to actively reduce food waste and help the circular economy. Let us know in the comments what peels went into your next pie!