Waste, Tradition, and Innovation
The first chapter of the Komoneed Collective Forces revolves around organic waste and offers both established and novel solutions to address its challenges.
During the coming months, Chapter 2 “It’s looking up” will discuss textile waste upcycling and innovative clothing-production approaches.
Following this, Chapter 3 “Sustainability is everywhere” illustrates often overlooked sustainability areas including pet washes and building material.
Lastly, Chapter 4 of this series titled “A package deal” will inform about reusable and compostable packaging options and outline the meaning of specific sustainability labels.
Researchers from ESCP Europe JCP | Bachelor Program:
- Merina Elaichouchi
- Nina Giannotta
- Kathleen Halioua
- Milena Mielcarek
- Lisa Ryckeboer
- Berangere Tichet
- Thibault Koenig
Let’s dive into The Collective Forces, Chapter 1
Waste is a major challenge – economically, socially, and environmentally speaking.
On a planet with limited resources but virtually unlimited demands, letting such precious resources go to waste is unsustainable and unethical, which is why addressing this challenge is so important.
To shed some more light on the magnitude of the waste problem, the world produces an alarming quantity of over 2 billion tons of municipal solid waste annually, and over one third of this waste is not disposed of properly.
While recycling initiatives are looked at as the solution, this is not yet done at a sufficient scale.
In fact, only an exceedingly small proportion of waste is recycled, with only 13% of overall garbage. The countries with the highest recycling rate are Germany (56%), Austria (53.8%) and South Korea (53.7%). These statistics concern especially the process of recycling materials like plastic, cardboard, or glass.
Organic waste as a key topic
However, one particular type of waste is organic, including food and yard waste, which makes up 25% to 50% of what people throw away. Notably, 8.2% of global greenhouse gas emissions per year result from food waste alone.
Graph: Global attitudes towards food waste in selected countries in 2020
Considering food waste, the public opinion seems quite strong on this topic: According to a study from 2020 conducted in several countries, half of the respondents believed that wasting food is morally wrong, and almost half of the people appreciate their food and want to become more sustainable.
But while this mindset exists and apparently grows stronger, what is the impact? Are we really making changes to our daily behavior? Are you?
If you feel discouraged or unsure of what to improve, keep on reading, we have a few interesting ideas.
Back to basics: Composting
Regarding the organic waste issue, one major sustainability approach is composting, i.e., the natural process of turning organic matter like leaves and food scraps into a beneficial fertilizer that may benefit both soil and plants.
Composting accelerates the decomposition process by creating an optimal habitat for bacteria, fungus, and other decomposing organisms (such as worms, sowbugs, and nematodes) to operate in.
This method of composting for organic waste not only reduces the waste stream, but it also improves soil health and helps in water conservation.
Moreover, although composting may be unknown to many, it is not a new idea. In fact, Pune city in India has already developed a planned strategy that revolves around organic compost to manage waste around the entire city.
Thankfully, composting does not necessitate the use of complicated techniques. It is simple to practice on a personal level using kitchen garbage as the basic organic material. This would gradually relieve the pressure on local governments. As a result, the surrounding region financially rewards recyclers to create an additional motivation. Are you composting yet?
Throwing fashion into the mix
An additional critical sustainability challenge centers on the fashion industry which represents around 2% of global greenhouse gas emissions annually.
Interestingly, there are innovative solutions to address these issues together.
While the food industry and the fashion industry haven’t merged much so far, there are new initiatives of incorporating agriculture waste into fashion products, also avoiding the intensive use of plastic.
Specifically, brands such as Pinatex or Rens have engaged in projects of that kind. Pinatex proposes shoes made from pineapple leaf fibers. As for Rens, they have imagined original sneakers made with coffee grounds.
For the moment, it has been mostly commercialized in the USA, but several Danish brands have also started investing in this food renaissance. Still, stay critical with brands and their communication to try to identify those with mostly greenwashing aims.
Talking about food, what are restaurants doing to improve their sustainability impact? What can they do? Well, let’s look at some examples.
Instock, a social enterprise from the Netherlands, explains that they rescue food products from various sources like producers, growers, or packaging companies by putting typically wasted foods on the map.
After doing a quality check, they repackage the goods and sell them to restaurants and caterers to fight food waste. Restaurants in turn can use enterprises like Instock or others to focus on reducing waste and primarily relying on food that is both in season and in stock.
In general, if you’re passionate about sustainability and making a change, you can look up low-waste dining options for the city you live in or that you will visit.
For instance, if you’re in Amsterdam, you can learn about amazing restaurants with sustainable missions here. The listed choices typically source locally, plant-based and some have interesting additional features like mostly using second-hand furniture or featuring sustainability tech showcasing.
This is only the beginning
In the long-term, this trend can increase even further in its scope and extend to cosmetics as well. Indeed, many mainstream cosmetics are typically unsustainable which is why, once again, brands have created novel products aiming to do it better.
Small brands, such as the brand Free the Ocean, have taken the plunge proposing products such as Pumpkin Spice Soap, which are edible, reduce food waste and offer safe alternatives.
What are the take-aways?
Try to start composting, make it possible – where there is a will, there is a way. And when you need to buy new shoes or other fashion products, look into more sustainable alternatives. The same goes for cosmetics, and really any of your products.
Do your research on the brands and restaurants about their impact to decide where you want to vote with your money?
This is only the first of four chapters on sustainability trends and insights.
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Also, let us know…
- Do you compost yet? If not, what’s stopping you?
- Have you ever heard of any product using food waste for fashion and cosmetics products? What do you think of them?
- What are you doing to produce less waste?
- Do you plan your supermarket shopping correctly? Have you set yourself any goals related to the reduction of your organic waste?
- How Much Do Our Wardrobes Cost to the Environment? (worldbank.org)
- Best of Green Awards: Sustainability Trends for 2022 (treehugger.com)
- Sustainable lifestyle – A trend to adopt eco & healthy lifestyle – Green Clean Guide
- World Bank Open Data | Data
- S. Environmental Protection Agency | US EPA
- Home – NS Packaging
- Global: Attitudes towards food waste 2020 | Statista
- Instock turns food surplus into delicious meals
- Sustainable and low-waste dining in Amsterdam | I amsterdam
- Instock – Reducing food waste – Holland Circular Hotspot
- Andres Ayrton via Pexels
- Instock via TripAdvisor
I don’t compost.. yet. But this really pushed me to talk to my building manager, maybe we can set up a communal compost, that would be neat!
That would be great! Fantastic idea! If “you can’t” perhaps, “we can”
I do try to limit my waste but it’s hard.. and zero waste shops are not accesible to me yet. But I recycle and I’m thrilled about finding certain brands I can support when it is time to buy products
The most important thing is that we start doing something, even if it is not the best…. There is a saying that “the best is enemy of the possible”.
Really excited for this series!
I tried to be zero waste for a while but it consumed a lot of time, and I was never content because there was always a way to be better. Now I strive to do my best with waste, going for less waste options but not putting all this pressure! it’s about doing your best, always