12 million people. That’s a huge number. Well, that’s the number of people we, Malaysians, can feed three times a day with our leftovers alone. Unfortunately, these leftovers are 16,688 tonnes of food waste we produce daily. What’s more, this amount rises by 15 to 20 per cent during the holiday seasons.
Not to mention, 3000 tonnes of this food waste in Malaysia is avoidable. We could feed up to 2.2 million people with that amount. Furthermore, food waste has the highest production of 44.5% amongst the various types of waste we produce.
This is undoubtedly a serious problem we need to address. The question, is how can we fix it?
Foremostly, the first act of action should be prevention! And it all starts with us, individuals. As a collective, we can successfully reduce the overall production of food waste in Malaysia.
Here are tips on preventing, reducing, and managing food waste.
1. Buy with intent and cook with intent
To begin with, we should be intentional when buying and cooking, but what does that mean?
To buy with intent is to make a shopping list of groceries to avoid overbuying or buying unnecessary items on impulse. A good tip is never to go grocery shopping when hungry! Everything will be more appealing when you do so, and you’re likely to buy more than necessary. What’s more, you might not even eat what you’ve purchased at the end of the day.
To cook with intent is to plan your meal. By doing so, you will have a clearer idea of what ingredients you need and how much of it. Hence, it will ensure that you use all ingredients and reduce food waste.
2. Portion control
Before an extra serving, ask yourself, ‘Can I finish this?’
After a long workday, it’s understandable that we get overexcited by the idea of dinner and that we can’t wait to satisfy our ravenous appetite. However, we should always be conscious of whether we can finish the entire serving, especially if we don’t plan on taking away the leftovers. Alternatively, the perfectly edible food will end up in landfills and produce landfill gases like methane and carbon dioxide.
3. Repurpose your leftovers
Maybe you went overboard ordering a whole fried chicken for yourself, and you now have leftovers. No worries! Instead of simply reheating it, you can make a new dish.
Check your refrigerator or kitchen cabinet for other leftovers and ingredients you could use. For example, you might have leftover rice or half an onion from lunch. With these, you could whip up some delicious fried rice.
The reality is there will always be food waste in Malaysia and anywhere else, but it doesn’t mean we should let it contribute to more enormous landfills. The unavoidable food waste we produce is kitchen waste produced during the food preparation process, such as eggshells and skins of vegetables and fruits.
What we can do is compost them! There are numerous ways to compost. If you’re not sure where to start, you can check out Petaling Jaya Municipal Council’s guide to home composting.
You’d essentially want to start by separating your organic food waste into a separate bin, such as expired fruits or food residues. Then move them to your composting bin – these bins should have holes to allow humidity to escape and air circulation.
5. Share your food waste journey with your friends, family, and community
One of the most effective ways to reduce food waste is to raise further awareness and knowledge to change the public’s attitudes towards food waste. So, who better to share with than those around you?
With more awareness, individuals and eventually communities can cultivate habits that would reduce food waste and prevent high production.
Time to Start on Your Food Waste Journey
With these statistics and tips, we hope that we’ve motivated you to start your food waste journey and contribution towards the betterment of our environment.
Everyone’s food waste journey starts from home. And so, if you’re a landlord or tenant, maybe you can suggest ways to prevent food waste in your household or property.