fredag den 13. november 2015

The Nordic Council - COP21: Is humanity approaching its expiration date?

by Selina Juul, Founder of Stop Wasting Food movement Denmark

Here we go again. This December, the world’s decision-makers will gather in Paris for COP21 to have another go at slowing the pace of global climate change. The nations of the world must commit to limiting their emissions of greenhouse gases, and COP21 in Paris may indeed be one of mankind’s last chances to save our civilization.

Escalating climate change, world population growth, loss of biodiversity, and lack of resources all now point to an inevitable future, in which the human race itself is endangered - with humanity’s possible expiration date in 200-300 years from now. This is the reality if mankind continues doing what it has always done – business as usual.

As humans, our mindset tends to be “someone will save us, won’t they?” When the Mayan calendar came to an end on 21st December 2012, the world was supposedly going to an end. Many people in the alternative communities believed, that there would be some sort of miracle, that our world would be reborn in a new age, and all the evils and problems in the world would be banished. Sadly, these people were wrong – the human race and all its problems are still here.

In reality, the belief that the world would end in 2012 was pure escapism: we would rather be somewhere else, absolved of responsibility, than face our problems.

Another example of such escapism can be seen in the huge interest in the up-coming Mars One reality show – a mission with a one-way ticket to Mars in 2023. The project had 202,586 applicants – including 489 Danes – all ready and willing to leave Earth with no hope of returning.

And who knows... NASA has recently announced evidence of  liquid water on Mars, so in the very distant future it might possibly be terraformed and become civilization’s plan(et) B.

It may only be a matter of time until climate change and rising temperatures mean we can no longer prevent the situation, and can only adapt to the new scenarios we will be faced with.

But we can also take action.

Instead of having blind faith that our politicians and world leaders will save the world for us at COP21, we can actively take responsibility ourselves and contribute to saving civilization.

There are many who are already contributing: from corporations like Arla, IKEA and Unilever who have green strategies - to citizens, who are engaging in new sharing and recycling initiatives.

There is an enormous power in the actions of ordinary citizens.

For instance, the consumer movement against food waste has resulted in 25% less food waste in Denmark over the last five years, and most of the country’s food companies and supermarkets today have food waste prevention strategies. As citizens, we have the power to start green revolution, which ultimately creates green demand for businesses and fuels up the green transition and green growth.

There are no miracle solutions. Focus, determination, courage, a change in mentality, action, technology, and adaptability all play a role in our steps towards a green transition.

“We’re not meant to save the world. We're meant to leave it,” says Dr. Brand in the film Interstellar.

But if we’re unable to figure out how to save civilization here on Earth, will we be able to do so on other planets in some distant future?

And how long will it take for an established human colony for example on Mars to run into exactly the same problems that we face on Earth today?

Perhaps we should take a good look at ourselves first before looking to the stars.

tirsdag den 10. november 2015

The Huffington Post - How to Avoid the Food Waste Traps During the Holiday Seasons

by Selina Juul, Founder of Stop Wasting Food movement Denmark

published on The Huffington Post on November 9th 2015 -

Holidays are coming! Thanksgiving, Christmas or Hanukkah - people are looking to spend time with their loved ones and families. Unfortunately, our garbage bin has become our extra family member. During the holidays we often end up cooking and serving for 20, even if we are just 8 people having a Christmas lunch. It's the same procedure as every year: we cook and serve too much, we overfeed ourselves - and we overfeed our garbage cans.

There are a lot of things which can be done to avoid the Food Waste Traps - and this November I will highlight many of them in my upcoming second TEDx Talk. However, this important issue cannot wait, so already now, here on my Huffington Post blog, I want to share some good life hacks with you and give you a guide on how to become better at not feeding your garbage can with your good edible food - based on my 7 years of experience working with reduction of food waste.

Trap no. 1: We need to get rid of these UFO's
While planning grocery shopping for the big Holiday Seasons, we tend to forget what we already have in our kitchen cabinets, our fridges and our freezers. Oftentimes we have those UFO's - Unidentified Forgotten Objects and Unidentified Frozen Objects. Spooky, Mulder!

Yes, UFO's are the perfectly good leftovers, left to die slowly in our fridges or in our freezers. So, remember to use those UFO's (before they go bad) and remember to make room in the fridge and freezer for all the new good leftovers from the Holiday Seasons. New leftovers must be stored carefully; remember to label them with date, freeze the food in smaller potions and have a certain place in your freezer just for the leftovers, so they won't get lost.

A good time in advance before the holidays, start using up and eating up those UFO's - it will save you money and extra trips to the grocery store. Keeping a healthy fridge and freezer is the rule number one to fight those food waste traps. Imagine the huge electricity bills we are paying to freeze the food, which ends up in our garbage!

Trap no. 2: We are scared of not having enough food
A common mistake is that we are always worried that we don't have enough food for our guests. A Danish survey shows that especially families with small children tend to buy and cook 30% more food than they actually eat. During the Christmas lunches, we tend to buy, cook and serve food for 20 people, even if we are only 8 people having a Christmas lunch. A good idea is to start planning the grocery shopping wisely: How many people have you invited over for Christmas lunch? How much do they actually use to eat? What are the typical leftovers from your Christmas lunch? How can you plan on incorporating the good leftovers in new dishes? Keeping a food waste diary is also a good thing, so you can keep track of your progress and learn from your earlier experiences.

Trap no. 3: We help supermarkets to take out their trash - and we pay for it
Yes, literally. Supermarkets are not the bad guys - they're just very very good at making us buying food that we don't actually need. So unless you are an aware and awakened consumer, you end up buying food to feed your trash. Bulk discounts is a huge food waste trap: buy 3 pay for 2 - waste for 3. It's what happens in the end, if you are not using all the food in time.

If you don't have the time to make a shopping list before you go grocery shopping, you can take your smartphone, open your fridge and take a picture of its contents. Thus, you have a simple and easy reminder of what food you already have. In the supermarket, if you don't want to be tempted to buy more food than you actually need, choose a smaller shopping cart or a smaller shopping basket, if possible. The bigger the shopping cart or a shopping basket is, the more food you are tempted to buy.

Trap no. 4: We serve too much food - and portions are too large
Earlier this year, during a food waste conference in Italy, a retail space management expert told me that not only shopping carts and shopping baskets have grown by 20% for the last 20 years, but also the size of our plates.

A good trick is to serve food in plates of smaller size. If you have a plate of smaller size, you can reduce food waste by 25%, since you are not tempted to fill up your plate with more food than you can actually eat. The same goes with dishes: serve the food in dishes of smaller sizes, and serve it gradually. There is no need to put all the food on the table at once, if you and your loved ones end up only eating half.

Good leftovers mustn't sweat on the Christmas lunch table for hours - be sure to get them back in the fridge as soon as possible.

Quality vs. quantity: try to get more out of less. For example, if you end up saving $90 USD per month by reducing your food waste, you can afford using this money to buy food of better quality, which is more expensive - but undeniably more delicious.

Trap no. 5: We forget that leftovers is a treasure - not a punishment
Leftovers are good - and free - food. Well, if you remember to use them. Start having a flow in your daily life, where you incorporate your good leftovers in your cooking. Leftover turkey, meat or fish can be used in pies, leftover porridge can be used in baking of sweet breads, leftover potatoes can be used in potato salad or an omelet - there are virtually no limits where you can use your good leftover food.

And perhaps we shall stop calling them leftovers, and start calling them bonus food. It's a bonus for your private economy, bonus for your time and bonus for the environment as well.

While storing your bonus food, try to keep it placed on one shelve in the fridge or a freezer, and remember not to mix it with other food while storing, so it's easier for you to use your bonus food in new dishes.

At last, we need to remember that the Holiday Seasons are not only just about the food. Holiday Seasons are all about spending time with our loved ones. The food, the gifts and the decorations are just helpful background features to create a great atmosphere for sharing time with the people we love and care about.

Love is all that matters.

fredag den 6. november 2015

Dagbladet Information - Red verden med din biksemad

af Selina Juul, stifter af forbrugerbevægelsen Stop Spild Af Mad

bragt i Dagbladet Information den 4. november 2015 -

Vi køber ting, som vi ikke har brug for med penge, som vi ikke har, for at imponere mennesker, som vi ikke kan lide. Citat om overforbrug fra filmen Fight Club.

Brug-og-smid-væk-kulturen er i den vestlige verden ganske udbredt. Men der er lys forude, for vi forbrugere er i stigende grad på vej fra at være forbrugere til at blive opbrugere. Vores indkøbsmønstre bliver stedse mere kloge og bevidste. Kloge i forhold til vores egen privatøkonomi og hensynet til klodens knappe ressourcer.

Den grønne omstilling er i fuld gang. Og det er den uanset, hvilken regering, vi lige har, og uanset hvad man nu når frem til på det kommende klimatopmøde COP 21, som jeg i øvrigt glæder mig til at opleve tæt på i Paris til december. Al Gore forudså det allerede for snart 10 år siden: ”De eneste meningsfulde og effektive løsninger på klimakrisen indebærer massive ændringer i menneskelig adfærd og tænkning.”

Ifølge FN’s Klimapanel IPCC rammer alvorlige klimaforandringer en række lande allerede om 60-80 år. I takt med en varmere klode vil det i fremtiden blive sværere at producere ressourcer og al den mad, en voksende verdensbefolkning får brug for. Intelligent udnyttelse af Jordens ressourcer bliver derfor et af de allermest centrale fokusområder i fremtiden.

Vi kan nemlig ikke bare give op og flytte til en anden planet. Ej heller selvom NASA antyder, at der muligvis er vand på Mars – og Mars One missionen, som lægger an til koloniseringen af Mars, ellers har høstet global interesse og 202.586 ansøgere, heriblandt over 489 danske.

Før vi begynder at terraforme andre planeter og bygge rumkolonier i en fjern fremtid, skal vi først få styr på vores egen koloni her på Jorden – så vi i fremtiden ikke gentager fortiden og nutidens fejl.

Vi kan gøre rigtigt meget som individer allerede i dag, uden af vi behøver at vente på at politikere eller industrien handler for os.

Begrebet ”grøn omstilling” er efterhånden blevet lidt slidt, så lad os i stedet kalde det for ressourceeffektivitet. Altså at vi omgås og anvender klodens knappe ressourcer på ansvarlig vis. Og det er efterhånden talrige eksempler på:

Vi er blevet bedre til at låne og dele. Hvorfor bruge mange penge på en dyr boremaskine, som man kun bruger to gange om året? Bor man i en opgang med gode naboer, kan man ligeså godt låne hos hinanden – og så kommer man også hinanden ved.

Vi er blevet bedre til genbrug. Flere og flere genbrugsmarkeder skyder op – og vi benytter dem flittigt og giver brugte ting nye liv. Kunsten er ikke at købe mærketøj til mange tusinde kroner – men at købe tøj, som måske endda er genbrug, der ligner en million.

Vi er blevet bedre til at minimere vores plastik- og emballageforbrug. I supermarkederne ser man flere og flere kunder med egne stof-indkøbsposer. Fra at være noget ældre damer gjorde for 20 år siden er bring-selv-indkøbsposen i dag blevet nærmest trendy og fås i et hav af spændende designs og farver.

Vi er blevet bedre til at undgå madspild. Danmark har slået EU-rekord: de sidste 5 år har vi mindsket vores madspild med 25%. Vi forbrugere er blevet bedre til at udnytte maden og handle mere fornuftigt, hvorfor de fleste danske supermarkeder i dag sælger datovarer til nedsatte priser. Hvilket både mindsker madspild, hjælper os med at få god mad til billige penge og samtidigt sørger for lidt mere indtjening til supermarkederne.

Vores nye ressourceeffektiviserede forbrug er i den grad med til at påvirke industrien – også på den kloge måde. Vi forbrugere kan skabe efterspørgsel på nye og bæredygtige produkter og løsninger, som industrien kan efterkomme.

Så ja, din biksemad af gode rester er et skridt mod en bedre verden.