While farmers toil under the scorching sun to grow grains for us to eat and use their energy to herd animals, we dump their produce into our landfill as edible waste in ample amounts. As a metropolis, there are citizens in need of the food dumped and it is a shame on us. They are living in hunger, foraging for food. A number of HongKongers still order more than they eat and goggle extravagantly in buffets. Only few can polish off their dishes. The over-consumption and food waste problems are so “environmentally rude” that it is everyone’s responsibility to cope with the issue. I’ll now make some suggestions on how you can contribute to alleviating it.
For the government, subsidies could be given to restaurants and companies for installing small composting machines. Restaurants account for one-third of Hong Kong‘s edible junk. Composting machines can transform food, whether fresh or stale, into useful materials. The government can also consider enacting laws to exempt the liability of food donors if the food donated make recipients fall ill. This can encourage food stores, restaurants and supermarkets to give food more confidently to charity.
Caterers could try turning uneaten scraps into new dishes. For example, vegetable peel can be cooked into a stock and leftover bread can be made into sandwiches, tarts or desserts. Restaurants should use the ingredients as much as they can, before thinking about processing food into compost, and before transporting food directly into landfills.
We citizens also have to shoulder our responsibility of reducing restaurant leftovers and domestic food waste too. We can order meals in a smarter way. Not only can we ask for a reduction in the meal size, but we can also share our food with family members or friends, packing up the meal. At home, we could make our own compost by just adding water into unwanted food and stirring it. Detergents and healthy drinks can be produced by fruit peel through this method. It is a little act to minimize our household leftovers, but has a great impact on the environment if we work together.
Schools should educate students and let our future generation understand that the environment belongs to everybody in Hong Kong and the world, and that concerted effort is needed to ease the food waste problem. Campuses can organize field trips to landfills and educational centers to urge students to help relieve the pressure of the sites. Through this, school children can learn the fate of their discarded lunchboxes and the repercussion of food wastage.
The fate of our leftovers is connected to the fate of landfills, and ultimately our fate. Food is a resource that should not be wasted. Whether we continue gorging at buffet restaurants and dumping food or not relates to our destiny. It is your life and the choice is yours, what would you choose?