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I am writing to highlight the important issue of food waste that affects not only Pakistan but the entire world. The impact of this problem is significant for our environment and society.

As a society, we waste food everyday, from farms to business to our individual homes. In fact, uncooked food that is wasted creates nitrogen which is equal to 33 million cars polluting the environment annually. Pakistan wastes 4 billion dollars’ worth of food each year and to think that we waste so much food while so many of our fellow citizens are starving because of food shortages in a poor country!

Apart from produce being wasted on farms because it does not reach the markets in time, most food is wasted by purchasing, preparing, or serving more than we need. When this happens, the excess food on the plate or in the cooking pot goes to waste.

One third of the food that we make is thrown away or wasted globally. This is equal to 1.3 billion tons per year, worth almost US$1 trillion. While I do not have detailed figures for Pakistan, in the US, 119 billion pounds of food is wasted annually. This equates to 130 billion meals and more than US$ 408 billion being thrown away each year!

When we waste food, we also waste all the energy and water it takes to grow, harvest, transport, and package it, and if food goes to the landfill and rots, it produces nitrogen and methane greenhouse gasses which are even more deadly than carbon dioxide.

Food waste can be seen as an example of unequal distribution of resources. In many parts of the world, there are many people who lack access to basic nutrition and access to food, with some people having food on their table, while others struggling to feed their families.

Pakistan’s 2022 monsoon season resulted in heavy rainfall, devastating floods and landslides which affected almost 1/3rd of our total population.

We can expect more such devastating consequences of man-made climate change. However, as a result of the floods, Pakistan quickly faced food shortages. This led to even more people becoming poor and hungry. In a country that was already facing severe economic problems, it also had the challenge of feeding a lot more starving citizens who had lost their homes and farmlands.

While our problems seem big, there are simple solutions to them. I was so angry and concerned about how much food is being wasted that this summer, I started a small project in my own neighbourhood with my younger sister. In order to combat food waste, I started the social impact project called “Broth in a Bottle” together with my younger sister Alayna.

We are taking the ends and peels of vegetables that are normally not used and turning them into delicious and nutritious broth. We are donating almost 5 litres of fresh broth (Yakhni) daily to an Eidhi Home/Orphanage.

My sister and I collect these vegetable ends and peels fresh daily from our neighbourhood restaurants like Cafe Flo and Cafe Koel and make our highly nutritious broth with it. Over 12kgs of fresh salad is also being rescued daily from our neighbourhood restaurants which is donated every day to Saylani’sD astarkhwan (soup kitchen) in Clifton.

We should all contribute to try and end food waste so that lots of people can eat and won’t go hungry.By reducing food waste, we can conserve valuable resources such as water, energy, and packaging that are used in food production. This helps in preserving natural resources for future generations.

It would be great if more people could try to get involved in this by starting such initiatives in their own communities across Pakistan so that we can reduce hunger and meet Pakistan’s commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals.

Anya Akhund (Grade 6, Karachi Grammar School)

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

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