What a surprise! It turns out that what you put on your plate does matter to everyone’s life. Something small, such as the food we choose to eat, can make a big difference in something as enormous as climate change.
April 20 marks the first day of the virtual interactive celebration of Earth Day, which was led by the Department of Education. On this special day, Melody Melo-Rijk, the project manager of The Sustainable Diner from the World Wide Fund for Nature-Philippines, discusses the proper preparation and disposal of food in response to current environmental issues.
Seeing the Links
We only have one home, and that is Earth. Without it, we have no place to live, so it’s understandable why many people feel powerless amid a climate emergency. To see the degrading state of the planet is overwhelming, leading one to believe that there is nothing to do. But in reality, your personal decisions about what you eat daily may alter the course of our history. Melody also shares the first step you can take: seeing the connection between our food choices and the environment.
Food is one of the basic necessities of humans. It is also one of the products that demand many resources such as land, water, and pesticides, to produce food. Following the production, the food will be transported from the farm to the market. The further the distance, the more fuel consumption it will take for the food to be delivered. It leads to the generation of more greenhouse gas emissions.
Did you know that the type of food we eat may be categorized according to the amount of greenhouse gases they emit from production to our plates? Red meat products are ranked at the top, releasing 36 kilograms of CO2 equivalent per kilogram. This is still nearly four times the mean footprint of chicken. Or 10 to 100 times the footprint of most plant-based foods. Since the production of certain types of food relies on the demand from the market, citizens can make an environmental impact by choosing what food to buy.
That’s not the end of it. We must also take into account the manner we consume our food. Since the beginning of the quarantine, many people have opted for food deliveries, becoming more and more dependent on plastic cutlery. Reliance on plastic and disposable utensils contributes to pollution.
On top of that, choosing not to finish your meal can cause massive damage to the ozone layer. According to Melody, one-third of the food produced worldwide is thrown away daily. In our country, we throw away enough food to fill 45 Olympic-sized swimming pools every day. Food waste that ends up in landfills produces a great deal of methane, a greenhouse gas that is more potent than CO2.
You’re Part of Our World
#AmbagKoParaSaKalikasan is a movement that encourages citizens to show they care about the environment through an environmentally friendly lifestyle. In the Earth Day Special, Ms. Melo-Rijk showed five different ways to ensure a more sustainable future.
With production and transportation demanding so many resources, buying locally grown food products is one of the best things to do to fight climate change. This may also change the marketplace as producers will offer more environmentally friendly food options once we have purchased local food products. Also, you will be helping keep your local farms financially viable, giving you better access to local farmers’ markets
Next is by saving water and electricity. Energy conservation through your household decisions means saving money, maintaining the value of your high property, protecting the environment, and remaining globally conscious and concerned about the planet. Taking action to adopt an energy-based lifestyle can help you and the world around you over the long term.
Another way is the reduction of food waste. This can be achieved through prevention, donation, and diversion. We need to plan our shopping list and start making fewer purchases. We should think twice about throwing out food as well. For example, many vegetables and green vegetables can soften or wilt slightly when they are just overripe. They can still make great additions to soups, smoothies, or ovenproof dishes. We could also share the excess food with others who needed it. If there is more, we could divert the food waste from the land and use it to make compost.
Fourth, the use of plastic must be avoided when possible. This could be done by carrying a shopping bag or by bringing a refillable water bottle anywhere you go. The next time you order food online, you can avoid snacks with excess packaging or refuse plastic cutlery at food deliveries. If you ever have to use unnecessary plastics, just remember the 5Rs: Refuse, Reduce Reuse, Repurpose and Recycle being the last resort.
Lastly, you should consume less meat and eat more fruits and vegetables. There are many plant-based recipes available online that one could explore, especially during this quarantine. By choosing a “plant-based” diet, we can help decrease greenhouse gas emissions caused by the animal agriculture industry. Although diet is just one of many contributors to climate change, for both health and environmental reasons, there’s no denying that plant-based diets are a key part of the solution.
The National Earth Day Online Celebration was organized by the Bureau of Learner Support Services – Youth Formation Division (BLSS-YFD), Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Service (DRRMS), DepEd Region IV-A, and Schools Division Office (SDO) of Dasmariñas City with the support of the Public Affairs Service (PAS) and in partnership with World Wildlife Fund for Nature Philippines, Greenpeace Philippines, City of Dasmariñas and Dasca Fiber Blaze. For more information, you may visit http://bit.ly/DepEdEarthDay2021
This article was written and prepared by Divine Grlcz C Dugan (Student-Journalist) and Jonell John Espalto (School Paper Adviser) from Sinalhan Integrated High School, Division of Santa Rosa, who are graduates of DepEd-DRRMS and AYEJ.org’s Green Beat Initiative: An Online Environmental Journalism Training.