By Blanca Moreno

Edmonton was once known as the city of champions, but there isn’t anything victorious about wasted food. We are 86 days into 2019, and the need to save the planet has become more significant than ever before.

In a report by Value Chain Management Internationalback in 2014, it was revealed that, in Canada, more than $31 billion worth of food is wasted every year.

In Edmonton, the average family’s garbage contains 22-26% of food waste, and those with children waste 80% more than families with no children. These numbers might not be alarming until we think about the number of families that do not have the luxury of eating three meals a day, never mind throwing out food to waste.

Below is a chart that shows the data taken from City of Edmonton where 64 participants were interviewed on their household food waste. It is important to note that over half of these participants didn’t have children under 18 living with them.

In the past year how often have you tried to reduce the amount of wasted food in your household_

Luis Gonzalez and his wife Alexandria Gonzalez have been living together for two years in St. Albert. Although they don’t have any kids, they have two dogs who provide them with plenty of waste.

“On average we throw out two to three bags of garbage a week. One to two bags includes disposal from our two dogs. The other bag mainly contains food containers and a bit of wasted food that has expired,” Gonzalez explains.

Screen Shot 2018-12-08 at 11.07.48 PM
Luis Gonzalez about to take his garbage out. It gets picked up two times a week.

The main issue with wasted food is that most of it is not actually expired or inedible, but rather, food that nobody wants to eat or produce that doesn’t look pretty and fresh.  Many young people have started to notice this and are trying to change this.

One of these zero waste advocates is Anna Gnida, a proud Edmontonian dumpster diver who is becoming recognizable by her vow to only have one yogurt container filled with waste per week.

“Sometimes you’ll get cases full of peppers, or tomatoes that are in a box, and there is one mouldy one out of all of them. You can be selective, throw out the mouldy one, and maybe the one beside it, and take the rest,” Gnida explains.

Gnida first heard of dumpster diving while travelling, where she met other people who did it and put her on, and she hasn’t looked back since. Now herself, along with her four roommates, dumpster dive together and end up running into friends from other collective houses and university clubs.

“I think there is so much unnecessary consumption and production of waste, and I think we can really enjoy life without having a negative impact on the world around us, and I think it’s a lot easier than people think,” Gnida says.

The idea of dumpster diving for sustainability is great, however, it clearly isn’t for everyone. With that in mind, there are other options Edmontonians can look at for managing or reducing waste.

One of these options includes giving back to those in need. In many cities, there are programs that include reclaiming food that can still be eaten and given to shelters within the community.

In Edmonton, we have many shelters that could benefit from the loaf of bread that was thrown out for being a day old, or the hand of bananas that had one too many brown spots, and one way is to speak about it more.

Some businesses have noted this and have taken the initiative to help. The Boyle Street Community Service Centre serves around 200 or more people a day, from November 1st to May 1st. On special holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas, the centre serves up to 1500 people.

“Often, the food for these events are provided by donations from outside groups or individuals. When this isn’t possible, we rely on the Edmonton food bank,” Ian Mathieson, the Director of Operations at Boyle Street says.

Mathieson adds that “we don’t have any partnerships with grocery stores that I’m aware of, however, I do know that we do get products from smaller business such as Cobs and Fuss Cupcakes, who provide us with baked goods that can’t be sold after a certain point.”

Food waste in Edmonton is a problem that could easily be rectified, but the issue might also be a lack of knowledge. Below is a chart with data taken from the City of Edmonton on how many households are aware of the issue.

Have you heard news about food waste in the past 12 months_

The necessity to become more observant when it comes to waste is very clear. Though many have come up with new solutions to better deal with waste, it is obvious from the data above that it needs to be talked about more. Whether on Twitter or talking with family, together this can be changed.

Feature Image from MachineHeadz/iStock/Getty Images

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