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Hey Malaysia, do we really need to be throwing so much food away?

Published on 19 July 2018|
2 min read

Why throw your food into the trash when you can throw it back into the earth instead?

by Emily Mary Chin, Carrybeans

Last year, Malaysians altogether threw away 42,672 tonnes of rubbish daily.  Food waste, on the other hand, accounts for around 15,000 tonnes per day, nearly half of our daily overall waste.  The numbers are so huge that they can be hard to conceptualise and put into perspective.

Christ the Redeemer weighs 635 tonnes; Malaysians collectively throw out food 20 times heavier than that in just one day

We can reduce our food waste by half

Despite the gravity of our situation, we as Malaysians are still fairly oblivious to what it all means.  Malaysia has already been pinpointed as the eighth worst country in the world for plastic waste pollution.  Combine that with our massive food waste problem, and Malaysia has a very grim future unless we start thinking more sustainably.

The Eiffel Tower is around 10,100 tonnes in weight and is lighter than Malaysia’s daily food waste

Out of the 15,000 tonnes of food waste produced daily, it is estimated that about 8,000 tonnes of that is avoidable food waste.  Furthermore, 3,000 tonnes of that is untouched and still edible.  What this means is that with proper waste management and a little bit of consideration, together we can greatly reduce our waste consumption.

All we need is a little bit of consideration

The first step to alleviating the problem is to be consciously aware of what we eat, serve and throw away.  Once we have that awareness, it will be easy to figure out what we’re throwing away unnecessarily.  And once we figure that out, we can gauge where our problems lie and what we as individuals can do to reduce our food waste.

The Statue of Liberty weighs 24,000 tonnes; it would take less than two days for Malaysians to accumulate enough food waste to match that

A lot of our food waste is preventable.  If your issue is that you cook more than you consume, then the solution would be to reduce your servings.  If you have a lot of food with no time to eat them all before they expire, donate them before they do.  And if you really just consume a lot of food and accumulate a lot of waste as a result, then we’ve got another solution for you.

One man’s trash is another man’s compost

One of the best and most accessible alternatives to throwing food away is to turn your food into compost.  Anything that once lived or was made from a living thing will decompose eventually.  Composting is just a matter of waiting it out!

Some examples of things you can put in your compost bin are such as:

  1. Fruit and vegetable scraps
  2. Egg shells and nut shells (except walnut; they are toxic to plants)
  3. Herbs and spices
  4. Coffee grounds and filters
  5. Beer and wine
  6. Pet food and fur/feathers
  7. Soy/almond/coconut/rice milk
  8. Tea leaves and bags (assuming it’s made from natural materials)
  9. Paper napkins/towels/bags/cups
  10. Egg cartons and cardboard boxes (from pizza, cereal, pasta, etc.)
  11. Cotton/wool clothing/blankets/towels/sheets

As you can see, composting doesn’t have to begin and end at food waste.  If we can cultivate a composting habit at home, we not only tackle a food waste problem but solid waste issues as a whole.  So maybe you don’t do much gardening and don’t really have a need for compost.  There’s always a neighbour, friend, or relative who would be more than happy to take it off your hands!

The Brooklyn Bridge spans a length of around 1,575 feet and weighs in at 13,320 tonnes, still lighter than Malaysia’s food waste in a day

If you’re not sure where to start, there are many guides available online on starting your own compost bin.  You can even buy at-home compost machines from online stores like Ubuy and Lazada that will do most of the dirty work for you.  Laziness is not an excuse anymore.

Compromising convenience for sustainability

Yes, sustainable living is not really the most convenient way of life.  It takes sacrificing part of your time and energy in order to practice.  However, the worldwide waste problem is not a natural occurrence.  It is completely man-made and born out of a human desire for more and more convenience.

A Tyrannosaurus rex weighs 6.2 tonnes; you would need 2,500 of them to match weight with Malaysia’s daily food waste

We use disposal bags, plates and straws because it is more convenient than carrying around reusable ones.  Recycling is not a new concept in society but throwing things straight into the bin is a lot less of a hassle.  We order more food than we can consume because we’d rather waste food than deal with the mere possibility of not having enough.

The way we’ve been managing our waste is no longer working.  Mankind has been prioritising convenience for way too long.  It’s about time we start prioritising something else for a change.  Because change is exactly what we need.

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch spans 1.6 million square kilometres, nearly five times the size of Malaysia!  Read all about it here.

Featured Image Credit: Pexels

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