Food Waste: Healthy Ways to Help Our Planet

Food Waste: A Pressing Concern 

by Tigress 

When you think about conserving energy you usually just think to turn off your lights or drive your car less, don’t you? Well, there are a lot more waste factors that have been contributing huge amounts to the increase of global climate change. One of those things is wasted food. It’s not just the food itself, either: by wasting the food you are wasting the energy that went into making it. Consider that 30% of the world’s available energy goes into making food, and a lot of it is lost or wasted. This has become a problem due to the increasing demand for food products worldwide which is increasing the amount of food being splurged (using too much too quickly).

Out of all the food produced in a year, ⅓ of it is either thrown away, lost, or doesn’t even get transported to a store. According to WWF this is approximately 1.3 billion tons of food–and that’s per year. This is enough to feed millions of people deprived of proper amounts of food. Of course, that is not the only problem with food waste. The food left rotting away in landfills produces massive amounts of methane, or greenhouse gas emissions. These toxic gasses (along with others) are dangerous to the health of the planet, especially if they keep increasing. These chemicals are harmful to not only the environment but the atmosphere as well. When they damage the atmosphere it allows the invisible energy that comes from the sun––ultraviolet light, or UV rays––to heat up the planet, (basically the invisible energy that comes from the sun to keep us warm comes down from the sun and heats up the planet.)

The Food Production System 

The process people go through to make meat produces the biggest greenhouse gas emissions. In order to raise the animals that are to be used for meat it is necessary to clear away large patches of land by cutting down forests of trees. This increases the carbon dioxide levels in that area. Furthermore, the cattle and other animals they raise leave behind large amounts of methane and nitrous oxide (other forms of greenhouse gasses) that is produced from their waste and bowel functions!

illustration by Callisto 

     The same problems arise in the production of dairy products and certain oils which are in very high demand. On a side note, big industries like this don’t usually treat their animals well, and they live in confined living conditions until they are ready to be slaughtered for their meat.

It is not just animal products that use up a large energy footprint, but vegetables and fruit as well, however not as large. The space needed to grow large crops also requires lots of space which results in more forest clearing and increases carbon dioxide. In addition to that, the fertilizers and chemicals sprayed on the crops are high in nitrous oxide, which is harmful to not only the environment, but to the food as well. (Who wants to eat chemical food? Bleh!)

Graph of Greenhouse Emissions Produced From Food

Image Credit: United Nations: Climate action

Why This Waste is Not a Sustainable or Renewable Resource 

While it’s true that burning waste is a form of fuel and is also a way to get rid of the waste, it is not sustainable. This is because it produces a toxic gas which is hazardous to the health of nearby ecosystems. Not only that, but the CO2 emissions coming from wasted food are so large they are contributing to the overall effect of global warming, and if they keep increasing at their current rate (which would be up to 30% more due to predicted demand) then the earth’s temperatures could go up by 1.5% Fahrenheit in the years between 2030 and 2050.

From a business perspective, the amount of money that goes into food production as well is also unsustainable. The money is wasted along with the food and the energy, which is just as destructive to the economy (the amount of money our country has) as it is to the environment.

Ways You Can Help Food Waste and Food Waste Energy

  • Eat a Healthy and Sustainable Diet: Since animal products use the most energy, to help reduce your energy footprint you can eat a more plant, fruit and nut based diet. Still eating meat is fine, just in a way that is sustainable. You could even try eating more plant proteins rather than the meat itself to get the nutrition you need.
  • Attempt to Cut Down Your Food Waste: Instead of throwing out food at the first sign of spoiling you can find ways of reusing it. You can use softer fruit in things like smoothies and jams and you can use old leaves (vegetables) in things like soup stocks.
  • Be Conservative With the Food You Have: Try to use what you have at home before you go and get more food from the store. Conserve your food and eat your leftovers first so less goes bad since you didn’t eat it in time, requiring it to be thrown away.
  • Buy Local Products: Buying local food products can reduce the energy that is used in transportation and other methods used to produce out of season foods. Have you ever wondered how you could have strawberries in winter when it’s too cold to grow them? Well, it’s because those strawberries were grown and transported from a place where it’s warm enough! A lot more energy goes into out of season foods. Buying organic is also healthy because the food does not have dangerous pesticides and other chemicals sprayed on it. The process of organic farming also leaves a smaller carbon footprint because there are no unnatural fertilizers full of nitrous oxide.
  • Grow Your Own Food: Like buying local food, growing your own will also reduce your energy usage because you are not relying on the big industries that use all that energy.
  • If You Can, Donate to Charities Who Need Food: Part of the problem with wasting food is that the food that is wasted could have been used to feed those in need. So if we can find ways to use the large amounts of food we have and feed even more people, it can help reduce the food waste.

Wasted Energy in General 

Of course, it isn’t just food waste that is hurting the planet, there are many other resources that are wasted, such as oil, electricity, and waste. If we can be conservative in the use of all things, then energy can be reduced. But these types of goals only work if enough people are involved and want to make a difference. There is no Planet B for us to run off to after we have wasted all our planet’s resources, and it is not a sustainable way to live in general. If we are always relying on the big industries that use unsustainable methods to create their products then the problems at hand won’t get any better. If things are to change, the consumers (the people who use products – like us!) and the producers (the people who make them) have to be involved.

Works Cited: 

“Fight Climate Change by Reducing Food Waste.”  WWF.  Accessed 

     Dec 20, 2022.'t,more%20potent%20than%20carbon%20dioxide.

“Food and Climate Change: Healthy Diets for a Healthier Planet.”  United 

     Nations: Climate Action.  Accessed Dec 20, 2022.

Muznik, Sara.  “9 reasons why we better move away from waste-to-energy, and      embrace zero waste instead.”  Zero Waste Europe.  Published 

     Feb 27, 2018.  Accessed Dec 20, 2022.,without%20delivering%20what%20it%20promised.

“The Energy Loss.”  Save Food: Help the Planet.  Accessed Dec 

     20, 2022.

Tigress is a regular contributor to One Girl One Planet.

Endangered: Tigers

By Tigress

The World’s Biggest Cats

And why they’re so important to save!    

Just one reason why tigers are so beneficial:  Healthy tiger habitats help mitigate (reduce) climate change

Healthy habitats for tigers provide fresh water to animals and even people who live around tiger populations, which can reduce the impact of natural disasters and improve the health of local people! A new World Wildlife Fund (WWF) report details these often unseen benefits that come from helping tigers and improving their homes.

What you should to know about tigers

Tigers once ranged widely––from the Eastern Anatolia Region in the west, to the Amur River basin, and in the south from the foothills of the Himalayas to Bali in the Sunda islands.

But since the early 20th century, tiger populations have lost at least 93% of their historic range.  They have been extirpated (wiped out) in Western and Central Asia, from the islands of Java and Bali, and in large areas of southeast and south Asia and China. Today’s tiger range is fragmented, stretching from Siberian temperate forests to subtropical and tropical forests on the Indian subcontinent and Sumatra.

The tiger is listed as endangered on the IUCN Red List. As of 2015, the global wild tiger population was estimated to number between only 3,062 to 3,948 mature individuals (grown tigers), with most tiger populations living in small pockets isolated from each other. While these numbers may seem large to us, they are not––consider that only a century ago, tigers numbered in the 100,000s.

Major reasons for population decline are:  habitat destruction, habitat fragmentation, and poaching. Tigers are also victims of human–wildlife conflict, in particular, in countries with a higher human population density. India currently hosts the largest tiger population.

What makes tigers so amazing!

  • Tigers are amazing for many reasons:  they can hunt in the day or at night, in water or on land!
  • The tiger mother has amazing endurance in caring for her cubs, and in protecting them from male tigers, considering that a male will eat cubs if needed for his own survival.
  • They are also the biggest cats on the planet!
  • But the most amazing thing of all is the tiger breed whose fur became white, and even rarer, black. Even orange tigers can sometimes have white cubs!

Here is a list of cool facts you probably didn’t know about tigers…

  • Tigers are nocturnal animals, as in they prefer to do their most important activities at night.
  • Tigers do not normally view humans as prey.
  • Tiger cubs are born blind and only half of the cubs usually survive. (This is just one of the many reasons we need to help them.)
  • Tigers love the water and like to spend a lot of their time in it, unlike most cats, who despise water.
  • Tigers can only live to an age of 20-25 years; this shorter life span adds to the problem of their survival.
  • A group of tigers is called an ambush or streak. Seeing tigers in such groups is rare, though, since tigers are very solitary.
  • Tigers can also mate with other big cats. Example: A male tiger could mate with a female lion and have a hybrid baby, an animal of two types. This is very rare because usually tigers mate with their same species.
  • Tigers have antiseptic saliva. This is very helpful to tigers, because the saliva can help prevent infection of a wound, so tigers will lick themselves to help prevent their wounds from getting infected.
  • Tigers rarely roar, and if they live in a group, behave humbly toward the other tigers in their group.
  • Unlike domestic cats, tigers cannot purr.
  • Tigers can imitate the calls of other animals.

How parts of a tiger’s body help the tiger

  • Padded paws make the tiger almost completely silent, which helps with their hunting.
  • Retractable claws: tigers keep them retracted for walking and swimming, but extend them to climb and hunt. This helps them keep their claws sharp when they need them.
  • A tiger’s eyes have large lenses and pupils that increase the amount of light let into the eye! This helps the tiger with night vision and when light levels are low, such as in shadowy areas.
  • Stripes help tigers camouflage perfectly into their natural habitat, which is very beneficial when they hunt. And even if their fur rubs or falls off for any reason, the stripes are on their skin, so this effect is not lost.

What threatens tigers 

Across their range, tigers face unrelenting pressures from poaching, retaliatory killings, and habitat loss. They are forced to compete for space with dense and often growing human populations.

Besides poaching, the WWF is fighting tigers being kept as pets, which is illegal in most places, but is still happening everywhere.  It is not good for tigers; they are not meant to be kept as someone’s pets. Currently there are 3,900 tigers being kept as pets in the world, and that is a problem. 

Another problem facing tigers is that people raise the tigers on illegal tiger farms, then kill them and sell their skins and body parts on the black market (an illegal market) for a considerable amount of money. The people who do this are tiger traffickers, and they are criminals. They use a criminal network to do this, one which needs to be traced so that the criminals can be identified and brought to justice. 

These concerns facing tigers are what the WWF is primarily focused on. I implore you to subscribe to the WWF and/or donate to the cause.

What we can do to help tigers

Join forces with, and/or donate to, reputable organizations like the WWF who help tigers.  Tx2 (Tigers x 2) is a WWF operation that started in 2010, and their goal is to double the amount of tigers in the wild by 2022, the next Year of the Tiger on the Asian Lunar Calendar. 

Here is a list of active ways YOU can engage in NOW to help tigers!

  • You can start a blog––like this one––in which you can make people aware of, and protest, the threats facing this amazing cat
  • You could create a petition to send to the local government to ask for their support in donating to, and supporting, tigers
  • You could make signs with facts about tigers and the threats they face, and ask local businesses you support to allow you to post these signs in their stores or give out printed information to their customers
  • You can fundraise for organizations like WWF, who help protect big cats, by making and selling crafts at a local or online store
brown and black tiger on focus photography
Image courtesy of Unsplash