Food waste is both an environmental and a moral hazard.
Most middle class Indians have grown up being told not to waste food because it’s in short supply for the poor.
Yet, the world wastes up to 30% of all food, increasing greenhouse gas emissions. The new global focus on methane has brought renewed attention to the issue.
In Spain, the focus of an upcoming law will be on behaviour change, such as taking back uneaten food in doggy bags or donating food to the poor before it is unfit to eat.
However, ahead of them is France because in 2016, it banned retail from trashing unsold food.
In July 2017, I saw a slew of innovations around how to reuse old food in Paris. For example, people made jams from overripe fruit.
In Korea, they recycle food waste using old technology to compost and new technology to measure who is discarding how much. They also use some of it as animal feed.
And did you know, in Pakistan’s Punjab province, they have a strict limit on how many dishes you can serve at a wedding?
India already has a subculture of sharing food locally or using it as animal feed.
People have also set up community fridges, so anyone can share and eat.
But individual efforts are not enough. We need to build on this to create laws and societal readiness to reduce waste at the source urgently and share what is excessive.
India must combine culture with laws for environmental good.
(The writer is the founder and director of Chintan Environmental Research and Action Group)