• OzHarvest Founder, Ronni Kahn AO, with 298kg of rescued food. (Photo by Jon Bader)
There's no need to suffer from 'eco-anxiety' and stress about a global lack of climate change solutions. OzHarvest's Ronni Kahn offers a few simple things we can all do to reduce food waste and look after our planet. #countmein
By
Yasmin Noone

15 Oct 2019 - 3:00 PM  UPDATED 17 Oct 2019 - 4:42 PM

How do you feel when you hear negative news about climate change and the deteriorating state of our planet?

If you feel a sense of overwhelming concern followed by a feeling of defeat, you may be suffering from a very common, modern environmental angst called ‘eco-anxiety’.

OzHarvest founder and CEO, Ronni Kahn AO, tells SBS many Australians are currently experiencing something she’s labelled as ‘eco-anxiety’ because they feel helpless in the battle to protect the planet.

“Feeling fear with no solution puts us into a state of paralysis – it doesn’t generate action – because we feel that it’s all too hard. We need solutions.”

“What we are hearing is a big loud noise around climate change,” says Kahn.

“We hear that the planet is in crisis and there’s a sense of urgency to act. All of these things are true and they are making us very anxious.

“Feeling fear with no solution puts us into a state of paralysis – it doesn’t generate action – because we feel that it’s all too hard. We need solutions.”

In response to this state of ‘eco-anxiety’, OzHarvest is using World Food Day on Wednesday 16 October to offer Australians a few simple food waste reduction ideas they can adopt to help collectively generate global solutions to environmental issues and override eco-anxiety.

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How will #countmein help?

OzHarvest has launched a social media campaign #countmein which aims to inspire individual action and show that making small changes to your food waste practices can help restore the planet. 

“What people don’t understand is that if we eliminate food waste, we eliminate the third biggest reason for climate change," she says. “So the campaign is asking people to just make a tiny change in their life [to the way they manage their food waste] because the impact is so important.”

The Federal Government’s National Food Waste Baseline 2019 report reveals Australia is wasting over seven million tonnes of food each year, which equates to 298kg of food per person, making Australia the world's fourth-highest food waster per capita.

“We want people to be food fighters and warriors for our planet." 

Kahn believes food waste reduction is one of the most effective ways for individuals to come together and prevent further environmental degradation in the future.

“We want people to be food fighters and warriors for our planet," she says. "We want this for their children, for their families and for our own good. Small actions to reduce your food waste will make a difference. We shouldn’t think that my little effort is not going to make a difference. It absolutely does.”

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Small changes you can make to reduce food waste

The campaign, #countmein, is calling on food fighters throughout Australia to a small change to reduce their food waste.

“If 7 billion people around the world made a few small changes to live more sustainably, then the collective impact would be huge.”

OzHarvest has also created a Fight Food Waste quiz to help people determine what kind of food fighter they are and offer a food waste reduction suggestion, specific to their style of food fighting.

Other simple changes that people can employ now to reduce food waste:

1. Make a shopping list

“If you plan what to cook and go shopping with a shopping list, you are more likely to buy what you need [rather than buy food that you don’t need that will only go to waste],” Kahn says. “OzHarvest research tells us it will probably save you about $3,000 a year as well.”

2. Compost food waste

“You can compost your leftovers and put them in a worm farm. It’s not that onerous,” she adds. “Even if you live in an apartment, this is one small step that you can still take.”

3. Eat your leftovers

If you can’t wipe your plate clean every time you consume a meal, save your leftovers and eat it another day while it is still safe to do so. In doing this, you will save money and time spent on cooking. 

“If 7 billion people around the world made a few small changes to live more sustainably, then the collective impact would be huge.”

“Do something just one of these things and will make a difference,” she says. “You will feel good that you are doing something to help the planet.

When everybody does just one small thing, the impact will be amplified and amazing.”

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