Creating a world of Conscious Consumers
By Samantha Flook
Let me ask you something… what did you have for breakfast this morning? Did you make your meal or order out? Could you tell me where each ingredient came from? How much of it did you throw out?
I’m on a mission to create a world of Conscious Humans, who are mindfully aware of the impact their actions are making on themselves and the world around them. Don’t worry this doesn’t have to be a stressful change, it’s second nature and the steps are super simple! However, as simple as they are, they make a huge impact on what I’m going to be talking to you about today… It’s time to make you a Conscious Consumer!
First things first.. let’s build that awareness!
Did you know that globally for all the food we produce, over 1/3 is thrown out, yep straight into the bin without even being consumed or 100% of the whole ingredient being used! Missing the mouths of hundreds of thousands that are starving each day, and needing to factor in feeding an increasing population, to keep up the demand for on the spot food services that are adding to waste!
Before I go completely on my rant, here is what we need to realise as Australian’s! Our national community happens to be the 4th highest food wasters in the world...to put that into perspective for you, 298kg of food that we purchase annually goes straight into the bin, which equates to around $74 dollars a month per household, which roughly comes to just under $1000 per year!
Thursday the 28th of March I was invited to spend the day on Cockatoo Island here in Sydney with the incredible Rabobank for their Farm2Fork Summit and the launch of their annual Food Waste Report. I sat with the heads of Rabobank nationally and internationally to chat about the changes that need to start happening now so that we can keep up with the most sustainable measures to be able to feed our growing population, limit food wastage and build a world of conscious consumers!
Some facts from the Food Waste Report show that three quarters of Australians care about reducing waste, there’s still work to be done with Australians wasting a collective $8.9 billion on food in 2018.
It seems Millennials are the biggest dollar value wasters, binning in excess of $1,200 in 2018! This is despite the fact that Gen Y and Gen Z actually show more promise when it comes to ethics, with results showing they are significantly more willing than their older counterparts to pay extra for food that is produced in environmentally-sustainable ways and is humane or organic.
If you’ve ever worked in hospitality or one to one with food you will know the exact amount of waste in getting one single meal onto a plate! This usually entails the packaging it arrives in, the hundreds of km’s the ingredients have travelled, the water used to clean the produce and cooking utensils plus that included to create the meal, the napkins and additions of plastics for take away purposes… the list goes on. On the flip side, as the consumer, beyond simply ordering and eating your ordered meal, are you able to fully say you are conscious of where and what you buy? Are your purchasing and eating habits connected to simply just eating or to help a bigger cause within your choices and food decisions? This is the concept that I am trying to focus on, wastage isn’t just focused around the food solely but the combination of every element that we are blinded to when we order our Uber Eats with a touch of a button, or aimlessly fill out shopping trolley’s with food that has exploited not only the people creating it but the environment, agriculture, wildlife and species as well as our own well-being at the end of the day! We are currently unconscious consumers!
Here’s how we are wasting not only our food but our planet’s resources as a result;
Food Wastage is the 3rd largest Contributor to C02 emissions in the world, in retrospect if food waste were a country it would be the 3rd largest contributor to climate change!
The equivalent of 6 soccer fields per minute of forest wilderness are being knocked down right this second, that equates to 18.7 million acres of forests annually!
We are wasting the equivalent of 4,400 times the capacity of Sydney Harbour every year in water just to grow food we don’t even eat!
We live in a world where we have access to satisfaction with a touch of a button, whether it is Instagram or Facebook for likes on our photos or more relevant to today’s topic, most of us if not all of us are able to obtain or have access to food or beverages within under thirty minutes! The research shows that this instant gratification behaviour actually leads us to waste more, with those who use food delivery services wasting 15.2 per cent of their food compared to 8.4 per cent among those who do not.
As a nation we have created a deprived mindset by never fully enjoying our privilege of clean water and food that is brought to us way beyond our means! We, buy the buy, are always reaching for more to feel satisfied but is it ever enough? To be conscious is to be fully aware of the experience of eating itself as well as the effects of our personal actions… this is what I’m going to tap into next!
We can sit around waiting for the world to change for us, for the person next to us to make the change that we need to see but for this to occur we have to make the shifts ourselves! We are all right now presently in our own bodies, own choices and own flow of life! Looking at your current waste usage how can you be more waste wise? What is your current footprint? I made a large commitment to myself to be more waste wise this year… Here’s a couple of steps I’m following which were highlighted in Rabobank’s research, that you can follow too!
Meal Prep and Plan your shopping lists: 34% of Australians have to bin food that they have bought because they have planned insufficiently, by doing this you are purchasing your own means without exceeding what you need! By knowing what you’re going to cook (keep it simple) you’re more than likely to use what you’ve got! Plus save a little cash by doing so also!
Eat leftovers and freeze: a huge 75% of Australians waste food because it goes off before they can finish it. Your food is still edible after you’ve made it, combine leftovers and get creative! If you make too much, freeze it!
Look in your fridge for what you have left over before buying more: 45% of Australians throw out food because they buy too much! Don’t forget to check the back of the fridge, draws and pantry for what you have!
Cook in more and eat out a little less: if you are ordering in try to limit the amount you order! This doesn’t only decrease your waste footprint but improves your overall well-being also!
If you are eating out don’t forget to carry re-usable bags and take away containers such as a keep cup or tupperware to limit excess one use plastic usage!
Buy locally from Farmers Markets and local Growers: This means you are supporting local business, there is a decrease in emissions from lessened travel and your food turnover is a lot fresher!
Don’t judge an apple by its cover: If your produce is looking a little wonky or out of shape, it’s still going to taste the same! In major supermarkets perfectly good food is thrown out and has created the mindset of “Perfect” ingredients in us as consumers, all natural ingredients are good ingredients no matter what they look like!
Practice Mindful Eating: we want to fully enjoy our food without always reaching for more. On average most Australian’s rush their meals without even enjoying the process. Remember to take 3 breathes before each meal and use your senses to look at what you’re eating before simply just hounding in! This helps not only your taste but limits binging and overeating also! WIN!
So what to do from here?
Make a conscious effort to take a step in a more sustainable direction, choose one of the above options, try to integrate it into your lifestyle this week! You play a large role in this change, just like I do myself! The fact is, our planet’s resources are depleting and we as a population we are growing, we cannot continue to pretend “not to know” about what is going on or to intentionally blind ourselves as well as remind ourselves that “my impact won’t help”, this mindset and disconnected is what is keeping us in this mess!
Just like I guide my clients to rid their beliefs of overwhelm to live more consciously within themselves, this is the exact same attitude that we can carry into shifting our environmental actions! We are all solely ourselves, but together create the world we live in! Carry this thought with you today, an intention I provide to my clients to help them make more informed, thriving decisions for themselves as well as to build their awareness when going back into a depleting habit or action… which goes a little something like this!
Carry this intention with you around your eating habits and waste actions! When you are going grocery shopping think before you add something to your trolley, use your list, eat to your means and take the step right now to consciously hold yourself accountable for being the change we need to see in this growing world! It’s time to waste less, care more and save our planet! By no means am I saying don’t eat out or enjoy the elements of life we are so privileged to have… but use it wisely and gratefully, after all an experience wholesomely felt is an attitude positively carried into all areas of life! Keep it waste wise!
If you want to find out more about the research into food waste from Rabobank, you can check out the infographic below!