In 2015, member states of the United Nations adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, aiming amongst many other things to ensure the lasting protection of the planet and its natural resources. The plan outlines 17 goals for sustainable development; goal number 12 is to ensure responsible consumption and production. It is clear that countries need to make drastic changes to avoid irreversible damage in the future, but what about individuals? What can we do to help our planet?
Reduce food waste
The 2022 sustainable Development Goals Report outlined major concerns about the impact of food waste on the environment. It was found that in 2020, around 13 percent of the world's food was wasted before even reaching the retail market, and 17 percent of the food that did become available to consumers ended up wasted at a service, retail, or household level. With goal 12.3 of the 2030 Agenda being to halve the per capita global food waste at the consumer and retail levels and work towards the reduction of food losses amongst the production and supply chains, it is safe to say that making a conscious effort to reduce food waste in our day to day lives is one of the ways in which individuals can help contribute to a more sustainable planet. There are many ways in which this can be done, these include:
Sharing leftovers with friends and family
Repurpose leftovers for other meals
Better understand the difference between 'use by' and 'best before' dates
Plan your meals and serving sizes, avoid serving too much
Target 12.5 aims for a substantial reduction of waste through reduction, prevention, recycling and reusing. Statistics show that in America, the average household dumps approximately 13,000 pieces of paper every year, most of which consist of packaging and junk mail.
Acts as simple as recycling the paper and plastic that come through our homes is arguably one of the easiest ways in which we can help. However, with the continuing increase in online shopping, choices such as grouping packages together can also make an impact.
Nowadays, most people seem to know and practice recycling, but this is not the only way in which we can help. Reusing items, such as grocery bags, paper and bottles eliminates the need to repurchase them time and time again, reducing the amount of waste long term.
"This is not to say we should never recycle; recycling is an important and useful tool to rid the world of excessive plastic. However, we can do better."
From reusing coffee grounds to make skincare products, to donating clothes that no longer fit, there are a multitude of ways in which each of us can contribute to a more sustainable planet by reusing goods one would typically throw away. However, as said by Rico Fleshman, this does not negate the importance of recycling.
These are just some of the ways you can help. The United Nations Environmental Program offers many more ideas on how we can each contribute to achieving the goals set out by the 2030 Agenda.