- Category: Media Coverage
- Published: Monday, 20 July 2015 17:42
- Written by June Moh (The Ant Daily)
PETALING JAYA: The festive season is something that everyone – young or old – looks forward to but sadly, it is also the time of the year where plenty of food ends up in the garbage bin.
More food is thrown out during festive occasions than at any other time of the year, be it Hari Raya Aidilfitri, Chinese New Year, Christmas or even Deepavali.
Excessive buying does not only have a big impact on our pocket but also on the environment.
Figures released by the Solid Waste And Public Cleansing Management Corporation (SWCorp) show Malaysians waste up to 9,000 tonnes or nine million kilogrammes of food during Ramadan, which is enough to feed six million people.
The founder and president of environmental organisation EcoKnights Yasmin Rasyid said that with a little planning and watching out for some of the staples that spoil easily, food wastage can be avoided.
Yasmin said there is a method for reducing waste by preparing certain dishes in stages, instead of cooking the complete dish all at once.
“Easily spoiled foods such as rendang can be prepared early and stored in the refrigerator in separate food containers. I have friends already doing this, they pre-cook the rendang before Raya and when friends and relatives visit, they only re-heat the servings they need,” she says.
The meat and gravy can be prepared separately and stored as a “ready-to-mix” supply.
“While another Raya staple, ketupat, has a shorter shelf life, you can always opt for those pre-packed ketupat rice cubes from the supermarket.
“When we have more than what we need, it is nice to share the surplus food with neighbours and friends around us. For festive snacks such as kuih which have short shelf lives, the surplus can be shared with your neighbours and security guards around your neighbourhood instead of throwing it away,” Yasmin said.
Besides large amounts of cooked food going to waste, the energy used to produce this food is also wasted.
“So much energy goes into producing food and discarded food means wasted energy. The sun, fertiliser and water as well as the underpaid farmer are the energy needed to grow food.
“After harvesting the produce, they have to be sent to the factory to be processed with logistics and machines involved in processing the food.
“Again, to deliver the food to consumers involves another level of energy. What is the point of growing food when they end up in the bin? It is our mentality and attitude that should be changed,” said Yasmin.
Discarding good food is a serious issue as there are many people who do not have enough to eat.
“At least 500 grammes of food per day per household of four are being thrown away. The act of throwing is very detrimental to our environment. One of the biggest challenges here is food composting; we must have a ‘semangat’ community to make food composting work, to turn food waste into an energy source.
“Older generations are more aware and conscious about food wastage while the younger generation is thoughtless in throwing away food, that’s why there is the need for continuous environmental education,” she said.
Fat, oil and grease from kitchen waste, food residue and unconsumed and expired food enter sewers and transform into hard, soapy material which cost the authorities hundreds of thousands of ringgit to remove.
Another point to consider is the everything-new mentality. “As we celebrate this joyous occasion, moderation is the key as the ‘everything-has-to-be-new’ mentality creates unwanted festive goodies,” said Yasmin.
There is a growing trend of buying everything new for Raya, including cars, new air-conditioners and new furniture.
“Our demography has shifted where we can afford more compared to previous generations. Of course, there is a demand for lifestyles. To reduce our carbon footprint, we can choose to buy things from local brands or buy less to lower the impact on the environment,” she says.
Environmental awareness is a global issue.
Hence, holistic environmental consciousness should be practised every day by everyone, not just during festive seasons.
Environmental education is of paramount importance, as every human being, from all walks of life, must be made to understand that it is their responsibility to preserve the environment.