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This is how you reduce your ecological footprint

Thrown food accounts for 6% of the world's total greenhouse gas emissions and if food waste were a country, it would rank third behind the US and China in terms of greenhouse gas production (Ritchie & Roser 2020). Thrown away food is a waste of resources and a contributing factor to global warming, which in turn is a cause of the natural disasters that are currently spreading around the world. 1.3 million tonnes of food was thrown away in Sweden in 2018, of which 70% were in our households. This means that we as private individuals carry a great responsibility on our shoulders.

This is how food waste and the food and agricultural industry affect the climate

Release of methane gas: As food rots and breaks down, harmful gases are released that are 25 times more harmful than carbon dioxide in terms of trapping heat in the atmosphere (EPA).

Transport: Many of the foods and raw materials we eat daily have traveled long distances. Avocados, which have recently become popular, are not grown in Sweden, for example, but are shipped worldwide from the USA, Peru, Africa, Israel, or Southern Europe. Transport has a major impact on the increased greenhouse gas effect, especially if we also then throw away food.

Deforestation: The agricultural industry accounts for approximately 30% of the world's greenhouse gas emissions and occupies 38% of the earth's surface. It is not uncommon for rainforests to be cleared to expand plantations. Deforestation of rainforests and other forests destroys the natural homes of many species and destroys biodiversity. We can no longer afford to lose more trees, as they absorb carbon dioxide from the air and act as natural protection against global warming.

Waste of resources: We use huge amounts of water when we produce food. Agriculture accounts for 70% of the water used worldwide. For example, it takes a whopping 50,000 liters of water to produce 1 kg of beef (Ritchie & Roser 2020). The fact that we, therefore, throw away approximately 1/3 of the food we purchase is a sign as good as anything that we have completely lost respect and knowledge of the energy required of the earth to produce our food.

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The importance of becoming conscious consumers

We Swedes have an ecological footprint of 6.6 global hectares and are among the 15 countries in the world with the largest footprint per person. If everyone else had as big a footprint as us Swedes, we would need about 4 globes instead of the one we have (WWF)

It is high time to break old habits and take responsibility for our consumption. From a larger perspective, it is about us as individuals having to regain respect for what we eat every day. If we do that, the risk is less that we shop blindly and throw away lots of food. Respect is achieved through knowledge and when an active decision to reduce one's ecological footprint has been made, one can begin to make active choices for a better climate.

Reduce your ecological footprint Shop organically: By shopping organically, you ensure that what you buy has not been sprayed with chemical pesticides that can be harmful to the environment and that animals have been allowed to be outside and given an outlet for their natural behavior. (Read more) Buy locally produced: In Sweden, there are plenty of good and healthy vegetables that provide us with energy and well-being. Buying locally can sometimes mean buying ingredients grown on a smaller farm, which can mean prices can be a little higher. One tip is to buy vegetables that are in season; then you ensure that they are both good and not too expensive. Reduce your meat consumption: As we mentioned earlier, large amounts of water are required to produce meat. And as if that wasn't enough, the meat industry causes large amounts of methane gas. Today, there are many substitutes for meat, which has reduced the threshold to becoming a vegetarian or vegan. Regardless of whether you choose to become vegan or not we must take responsibility and reduce your meat consumption. A hot tip is to start handling the vegetable as the main component and the meat as a secondary component. Then you can also afford to buy better meat. Use your senses: You've probably heard it before: To avoid wasting food, we should use our senses and not stare blindly at best-before dates. Smell and taste before throwing away. Plan better: When it comes to household food waste, the biggest cause is a lack of planning. It may be enough to check the fridge an extra time before we go shopping or to write a shopping list. In this way, we reduce spontaneous trips to the grocery store and reduce the risk of us buying something we already have at home.

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