It’s World Environment Day. In fact its the 40th anniversary of World Environment Day — first celebrated in 1973, a year after the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment. The theme this year is food waste. Apparently 1.3 billion tonnes of food is wasted each and every year. That sounds like an awful lot to me — especially in a world where so many are starving. Wasting food contributes to the waste of clean water, the destruction of forests, and the pollution of our air.
So what to do about it? The United Nations Environmental Program is encouraging everyone to think carefully about the food they purchase, strive to leave less on the plate, and buy locally when possible. My depression-era father-in-law hates to leave food on his plate, “think of the starving Chinese,” he says as he scoops in the last bit left on the edge of your plate. While it’s politically incorrect and outdated, it does encourage him to leave no plate unfinished. Of course, he readily acknowledges he’d be better off eating less, not merely finishing it all.
My six year old son, who has no idea its World Environment Day today or that the theme is food waste, had a great idea today. I was making his lunch and he chimed in me, “please don’t make me very much.” His problem is slightly different. He eats a huge breakfast. And the kindergarten class has lunch at 11:30 and he’s never hungry. He even suggested I ask the school if he could have lunch at, “like maybe one o’clock.” Perhaps we could mount a campaign under the slogan of “Think. Eat. Save.” Or perhaps I will just make him less and he’ll have a snack when he gets home. It’s a classic example of whether to act collectively or individually. Of course, what is needed is both.