In early August of this year, a severe drought brought the depth of Lake Mead to its lowest level. Lake Mead is the largest reservoir in the United States and the lifeline of the agricultural southwest. Due to the climate crises accompanied by drought and flood, grain production in countries that export major grains such as wheat, rice, and maize has decreased by 6-7%. Now that the climate crisis is leading to a decline in food, what can we do? Nam Jae-jak, a climate change expert who authored the book <Food Crisis South Korea>, said, “1.3 billion tons of food, or one-third of all food produced by humans, is wasted every year. (Investigation of FAO Association) Therefore, reducing food waste will help alleviate food shortages.”
According to the book <Food Crisis South Korea>, there are predominantly two types of discarded food waste. The first is “food loss”, which refers to food and agricultural products that are lost in the process from cultivation on the farm to delivery to consumers. And the second is “food waste” caused by food wasted in restaurants, supermarkets, and households. In developing countries, food loss is the main proportion of food waste – crop losses from pest damage, extreme climate and soil conditions, problems with post-harvest storage methods, and defects in processing and transportation facilities. However, in developed countries, most of it is food waste. One-seventh of Korea’s annual food is discharged as food waste, which amounts to about 5 million tons, or over 20 trillion won per year. If only a quarter of food waste in developed countries could be reduced, food could be provided to more than 800 million hungry people. Therefore, reducing the amount of wasted food has the same effect as increasing the productivity of agricultural products. In other words, one of the ways to respond to the food crisis is figuring out how to reduce food waste. A CBT reporter interviewed Hong Da-kyung, who is an environmental activist YouTuber in her 20s and a leader of the environmental organization “Jijibae” about how to reduce food waste and how to participate in environmental protection in daily life.
Q1. Please introduce “Jijibae” and tell us what kind of organization it is.
In Korean, “Jijibae is an abbreviation for ‘Earth Protecting Learning Center.’ Jijibae is an environmental protection organization, and we are affiliated with the environmental group the Earth Citizens Organization.”
Q2. There are many trash-themed videos on your YouTube channel ‘Jijibae.’ How does the climate crisis relate to waste emissions?
Energy is used in the process of producing and manufacturing goods, and carbon is emitted in the process of collecting and transporting waste. Therefore, the climate crisis and the garbage problem are very closely related. If we reduce food consumption and produce just enough to eat in moderation, we could utilize farmland to grow much needed trees and lifegiving forests instead.
Q3. Recently, the problem of food shortages due to the global climate crisis (drought, flood, etc.) is emerging. How does reducing food waste help with food shortages?
We are consuming too much and we are emitting too much. However, what if we produce just the right amount of food? Instead of cultivating on arable land, we can use some farmland to grow trees. Moreover, reducing food waste would help to solve the climate crisis by preventing the damage from soil water pollution. Only when the frequency of abnormal temperatures decreases can we solve the problem of food shortages. Time is running out, but we must reduce our carbon footprint during the remaining time so that global warming doesn’t accelerate further.
Q4. How can college students help to reduce food waste?
First, select or purchase only enough food not to throw away. Second, try to prevent food waste from occurring wherever you may encounter it. Third, when you do discard it in the food waste bin, squeeze and dry it rather than throwing it out wet. Fourth, throw away food waste without including anything else like plastic.
Q5. This CBT reporter enjoyed the music video <Enlighten> made jointly by you and the Earth Citizens Organization. What do you think the impact of online content, like the music video that makes it easier and more friendly to inform people about environmental issues, on environmental protection could be? Plus, how can college students participate in environmental protection through social media?
We can make changes with offline environmental campaign booth operation and environmental education. However, online content is the most important means of promoting the importance of environmental protection through online media, regardless of time and space. The audio-visual materials that you watch can send messages to more people, and in addition, make various campaigns such as the signature movement a global movement, and change the attitudes of businesses and governments. Please take the lead in protecting the environment through social media! You can make a difference in the company through the ‘attack events’ for environmental protection on social media and honest reviews of the use of eco-friendly products. It’s also one way to share environmental information through your online media.
Q6. Lastly, is there anything you want to say to CBNU students?
Now is the time when the voices and actions of the MZ generation are very important. Because today’s actions shape our future. To protect the nature in which we live and the earth where future generations will live, we must act right now. Please show your action now!
The food crisis impacts the world’s grain exporters, import-dependent Korea, and even our tables. If we do not reduce the amount of food waste now, there will be a shortage of edible food in the future. However, conversely, reducing food waste will help to solve the food crisis problem little by little. As Hong Da-kyung said, why don’t we try ‘action’, such as participating in environmental protection through social media or by simply consuming as much as we eat? Instead of saying, “We have to protect the environment.”
By Jeong Yeon-ju l email@example.com