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Stop Food Waste Day: How food waste affects our mental health and what you can do to reduce it

Image of food waste for Stop Food Waste Day
Rachel Claire / Pexels

Case study / by Radhika Ghosh

Food waste can have a huge impact on our collective mental wellbeing, both directly and indirectly. And that's why Stop Food Waste Day is so important. Radhika Ghosh provides an overview of the event and how you can get involved.

Had a recent breakup? Grab a tub of ice cream!

Have to pull an all-nighter before your exam? Black coffee to the rescue!

On a detoxifying spree? Chicken stew with a pinch of salt, please!

We all know that food affects our mood. But what happens when you don’t have access to food at all? What happens when you are deprived of that one square meal you struggled hard for, let alone the luxury, fancy food items?

A lack of food not only leads to nutritional deficiency but can also give rise to mental imbalance. When someone does not have proper access to food or is unable to get food, they might suffer from anxiety, low self-esteem, and depression. Food is one of our basic human needs. And even limited opportunities to earn food is disheartening.

There are a lot of people who don’t have access to food, let alone good food. Aside from starvation, this causes a multitude of problems as mentioned above. If we all do our part to help prevent food waste we can ensure that nobody goes to bed hungry, wherever they are in the world. There is more than enough food for everyone, but we need to be more sensible so that food is accessible to all.

In fact, on average, every family in the UK is responsible for wasting eight meals per week. Food waste is currently causing 25 million tonnes of carbon dioxide annually. To put a stop to this, awareness and action are the key. And to create that awareness, Stop Food Waste Day is the perfect occasion.

What is Stop Food Waste Day?

Internationally observed on the 28th of April, Stop Food Waste Day is a day to come together and raise awareness about food waste. The goal is that we have zero food waste. The day also gives us a great opportunity to think about food conservation. By taking part in Stop Food Waste day, we can also move toward achieving the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) —Zero Hunger (SDG 2), and Responsible Consumption and Production (SDG 12).

Stop Food Waste Day also educates us on how to produce food in a more environmentally friendly way, which extends to mindful food purchase and consumption.

The day was created by Compass Group, one of the premium food-service companies in the world, who pledged to reduce food waste by 25% by 2020. Stop Food Waste Day was initially a part of their mission to achieve their goal and now has become an awareness day in its own right.

As per the Compass Group’s research findings, 25% of the world’s produce can feed around 795 million hungry stomachs. So what can we do to help?


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Practical steps you can take to avoid food waste

With our world suffering from glaring issues like climate change and an ongoing pandemic, let’s try to help curb food waste and do our part in making this earth happier and healthier. Here are some good ways to begin with:

Freeze it, don’t bin it

Use your refrigerator when you overbuy. Rather than throwing the extra food into the garbage, store it properly. Of course, do keep a check on the expiry date when buying so that you don’t overstuff your fridge or freezer.

Plan ahead

Draw up a plan for the month or for the week, at least. Plan out what your meals will be; list down the ingredients and buy only those. Monitory our purchase so that they closely match with the things you need.

Check portion sizes

Take only as much as you can consume. Be patient until you eat what’s on your plate rather than adding a few extra spoonfuls. This will not only keep the food waste in check but also help you eat more mindfully.

Avoid leftovers

Leftovers are food too. So, eat up those vegetable and fruit peels! Those last bit of food remaining in your pots and bowls have a bunch of nutrients too. What you might be throwing away as garbage can be food for your starving stomach the next day.

Act now

If you want to start doing something, start right now, at this very moment. The clock is already ticking. Every small contribution that you make will have a positive impact on global health.

So, take the pledge today. Let’s raise awareness, be more judicious when it comes to food, and – above all – get involved in #StopFoodWasteDay.


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