Believe it or not, agriculture is responsible for around 14% of Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions. This is about the same amount as emissions from cars!
Much of this alarming statistic comes from unsustainable farming and livestock practises, however large-scale and long-haul transportation of food to supermarkets is also to blame in a big way.
Being more conscious about how we grow and consume food, as well as manage food waste, will be crucial to achieving Net Zero by 2050.
Each year, Australians waste an average of 312 kg of food per person. That’s about one in five bags of groceries!
Food waste costs the Australian economy around $36 billion AUD per year. Not only that - but about 2600 gigalitres of water are also wasted growing food that doesn’t get eaten (that’s enough to fill the Sydney Harbour about five times!).
The Federal Government has introduced measures aimed at halving food waste by 2030 - but what can we do as a society to help this along?
1. Shop locally
Try shopping a bit closer to home - there are many local farmers' markets or smaller grocery stores where we can stock up on produce. Why? Because when we shop locally, we reduce the carbon footprint of our food, meaning food has less distance to travel to get to us (and is usually more nutritious!). Or, if we're more prone to a green thumb, we can have a go at growing our own veggies!
2. Responsible shopping
Being conscious when grocery shopping and only buying what we need will inevitably reduce the amount we throw out. It’s so easy to be tempted by all the half-price section, but think: will I actually eat this, or will it end up in the bin? Being conscious of how much food we realistically need for a week should be at the front of our minds every time we shop. Not only are we being more environmentally considerate, but we're also saving a bit of cash!
3. Considerate food disposal
Considering how we dispose of waste is critically important. Composting is a great way of recycling food and making sure it’s not just getting chucked out for no reason. If the food is packaged, we should be recycling correctly, and trying to be mindful of the amount of single-use plastics we're using to store food.
4. Experiment with plant-based
One way you can consume food more thoughtfully is by experimenting with different diets. A vegan's carbon footprint is 50% of a non-vegan's, which is mostly due to unsustainable farming practises pushing up the emissions of the meat industry. Of course, we all have different dietary requirements and vegan diets aren't always the best health option - but try starting with one plant-based meal per week and seeing how you go. One person eating vegan just one day per week saves approximately 18kg of grain, 4000 litres of water, and 9 square metres of forest. Every little swap helps!
Making small yet impactful mindset changes is the key to large-scale change. Rome wasn't built in a day!
For example, you could try using a small compost bin under the sink to encourage composting scraps. Another could be forgoing Ziploc bags for reusable containers to store food.
Small switches will set us on track for creating tangible change in how our food consumption and waste impacts climate change. Give it a go!