Friday, November 25, 2011

World - 10 Steps To Waste Less Food This Holiday Season

A little bit for those that celebrated Thanksigiving yesterday, but still useful for the rest that are celebrating it late or for those planning christmas meals.

About one-third of all food produced for human consumption, approximately 1.3 billion tons, is lost or wasted every year, according to the UN's Food & Agriculture Organization (FAO). Consumers in developed countries are responsible for 222 million tons of this waste, or about the same quantity of food produced in all of sub-Saharan Africa. The wasted food that is not composted ends up in landfills where it produces methane emissions, a greenhouse gas with a warming effect 21 times greater than carbon dioxide.With the holiday season upon us, it is helpful to know how to avoid wasting food. Thankfully, the Worldwatch Institute offers 10 steps that will make a holiday meal less wasteful:

  1. Be realistic: Cook only the amount of food that is really needed for your holiday meal. See the Love Food Hate Waste organization's "Perfect portions" planner to calculate meal sizes.

  2. Plan ahead: Create a shopping list before buying the ingredients for your meal. Check out the Grocery Gadgets shopping app for iPhone, Android, and Blackberry.

  3. Go small: Use smaller serving utensils and plates to encourage people to eat smaller portions, and reduce the amount of food left on plates.

  4. Encourage self-serve: Let guests serve themselves so they will take the amount they can realistically eat.

  5. Store leftovers safely: The USDA recommends that hot foods only be left out for no more than two hours.

  6. Compost food scraps: Compost vegetable peels, egg shells and other food scraps from meal preparation.

  7. Create new meals: Use the leftovers from your holiday meal to make new meals. See the Love Food Hate Waste's recipes from food scraps.

  8. Donate excess: Donate canned and dried foods you didn't need for your holiday meal to food banks and shelters. See the Feeding America's Food Bank Locator.

  9. Support food-recovery programs: In some cities, there are food recovery systems that will come and collect your leftovers. For instance, in New York City, City Harvest, the world's first food-rescue organization, collects about 28 million pounds of food each year.

  10. Give gifts with thought: If you decide to give food, avoid highly perishable items. If you give chocolate, coffee or tea as a gift, choose fair trade certified products. Check out Global Exchange, which lists fair trade certified chocolate, coffee and tea companies.

If you know other tips for reducing food waste this holiday season, feel free to divulge them as a comment to this post. Read more:

Monday, November 14, 2011

World - Humanity can and must do more with less

By 2050, humanity could devour an estimated 140 billion tons of minerals, ores, fossil fuels and biomass per year - three times its current appetite - unless the economic growth rate is "decoupled" from the rate of natural resource consumption, warns a new report from the United Nations Environment Programme.

Developed countries citizens consume an average of 16 tons of those four key resources per capita (ranging up to 40 or more tons per person in some developed countries). By comparison, the average person in
India today consumes four tons per year.

With the growth of both population and prosperity, especially in developing countries, the prospect of much higher resource consumption levels is "far beyond what is likely sustainable" if realized at all given finite world resources, warns the report by UNEP's International Resource Panel.

Already the world is running out of cheap and high quality sources of some essential materials su! ch as oil, copper and gold, the supplies of which, in turn, require ever-rising volumes of fossil fuels and freshwater to produce.

Improving the rate of resource productivity ("doing more with less") faster than the economic growth rate is the notion behind "decoupling," the panel says. That goal, however, demands an urgent rethink of the links between resource use and economic prosperity, buttressed by a massive investment in technological, financial and social innovation, to at least freeze per capita consumption in wealthy countries and help developing nations follow a more sustainable path.

The trend towards urbanization may help as well, experts note, since cities allow for economies of scale and more efficient service provision. Densely populated places consume fewer resources per capita than sparsely populated ones thanks to economies in such areas as water delivery, housing, waste management and recycling, energy use and transportation, they say.

"Decoupling makes sense on all the economic, social and environmental dials," says UN Under Secretary-General Achim Steiner, UNEP's Executive Director.

Friday, November 11, 2011

USA - Hotel soaps cant be reused, but they are used again after being recycled

Unlimited access to tiny individually-wrapped soaps is one of the many perks of a hotel stay. But what happens to soaps that aren't used (or pilfered) during your visit? The answer may surprise you.

More than 2 million partially used bars of soap are discarded at North American hotels each day, according to the Global Soap Project. Even if hotel soaps haven't been used, quality control standards usually prohibit cleaning staff from reusing the same soaps for multiple guests - especially if the paper wrapping is wet or opened. So, unused and partially used soaps are often destined for the landfill.

But Hilton Worldwide is planning to change all that at its 3,750 hotels by partnering with the Global Soap Project to recycle old soaps for a cause, the company announced on Tuesday. The Atlanta-based non-profit will collect partially used soaps from Hilton and its subsidiaries, sanitize them and reprocess them into new bars - which are then distributed in developing countries.

Recycling soap eliminates a common hotel waste product and provides free sanitation options for people who are at risk of hygiene-related diseases, said Derreck Kayongo, founder of the Global Soap Project.

"When living as a refugee in Kenya, I realized soap was hard to come by, even completely nonexistent sometimes, " Kayongo remembered. "Even when available, those living on less than a dollar a day had to choose between buying food or soap. People were suffering from illness simply because they couldn't wash their hands. "

Hand washing with soap is among the most effective and inexpensive ways to prevent diarrheal diseases and pneumonia, which together are responsible for more than 3.5 million child deaths each year, the nonprofit said.

The hotel giant expects their donations to yield 1 million new four-ounce bars of soap in the partnership's first year. In addition to donating soap, Hilton is investing $1.3 million over the next three years to help expand the nonprofit's processing capabilities. The company said it hopes to help the Global Soap Project recycle the high volumes of soap generated by the sector, at zero cost to hotel properties.

The nonprofit is "thrilled" with the partnership and hopes it will empower other hotel companies to recycle their soap to support those in need, Kayongo said. Since its inception in 2009, the Global Soap Project has distributed more than 25 tons of soap in 20 countries across four continents.