World Environment Day

Posted by: Scott Ko

Today is World Environment Day (WED). It is the United Nations’ principal vehicle for encouraging worldwide awareness and action for the environment. Over the years it’s become a broad, global platform for public outreach celebrated by stakeholders in over 100 countries. It also serves as the ‘people’s day’ for doing something positive for the environment. But what can we really do? We’re just small fry, aren’t we?

Perhaps unsurprisingly, I want to talk a little bit about food. A couple of years ago, I attended a talk by chef Magnus Nilsson, head chef of Faviken, one of the top restaurants in the world. He was very curious about why people in Sweden were starting to adopt less healthy eating habits. The balance of meats versus vegetables was shifting, as was the shift towards more processed foods. In particular, he mused that with so much information available, why was there still a trend towards poor decisions?

His theory was one that resonated with me: It wasn’t that people didn’t understand how to make good food decisions, it was just much easier to make poor decisions. It’s much easier to buy something based on lowest price than to bother someone and ask where the product came from. It’s much easier to eat something pre-prepared and labelled ‘low fat’ than to figure out what exactly is a healthy balance.

Image courtesy of NYTimes

Taking a step back from food and extending this to environmental issues, I think the same holds true. For example, a quick search on the world of consumer economics shows some of the major issues that plague the industry. The information is readily available, yet issues persist.

But this isn’t about pointing fingers or shouting: “Education is the key!” On the contrary, I think people do care. However, I believe there’s only so much any individual can care about. With a website like MealDish, it’s clear that I care about food. I have a far greater interest in food sustainability, nutrition, and wastage than I do in say, sustainable building materials or microplastics pollution. This isn’t to say that I don’t care about those issues, but I don’t have the capacity to research and understand all those issues in-depth to make good decisions.

So what can we do? I believe part of the solution lies in the community! Communities are made up of individuals who share information, expertise, and knowledge. Communities are where you can learn from people who do care and who have done their research so they can help you make good decisions. Join groups such as Think. Eat. Save, 1 Million Women, Rent to the World, or do your bit and volunteer with SecondBite. After all, they’re just made up of individuals too and together, we can all take action!

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