[Letters] Making our holidays greenEvery day, 14,000 tons of food waste is dumped, and during the Lunar New Year holidays, for instance, 20 percent more food goes to waste. The economic loss from food waste was estimated to be 25 trillion won ($22 billion) in 2012.
The greenhouse gas emissions from the food waste is equivalent to the emission from 2.34 million cars on the road. Food waste leads to waste of resources and energy as well as greenhouse gas emission. If you prepare too much food, you are bound to have leftovers, which are often thrown away to start a vicious cycle. The best solution is to buy and prepare the right amount of food to be completely consumed.
If you inevitably end up with leftover or raw food, you may want to refer to the “green recipes” and try out a new menu. By reducing the food waste by 20 percent, we can save 160 billion won in food waste processing costs every year. It will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 1.77 tons and save 1.8 billion kilowatt hours of energy.
The government plans to introduce a meter-rate system for food waste in 144 local autonomous government entities in 2012. In fact, eight districts, including Geumcheon District, Seoul and Gimcheon City in North Gyeongsang, operated a pilot program and reduced their food waste by 30 percent.
In addition to the efforts to reduce food waste, there is one more way to make our holidays greener. We need to rely on public transportation more. Over 30 million Koreans travel during holiday weekends, and 82 percent travel by car. Using mass transit not only saves you time and money but also allows you a pleasant trip to enjoy books and music. If you must travel by car, you should refrain from unnecessary idling, reduce your load and refrain from quick starts or accelerations to minimize environmental pollution. When we work together to reduce food waste and unnecessary energy consumption, we can make Earth a better place for our loved ones.
Yoo Young-sook, Minister of Environment
*Letters and commentaries for publication should be addressed “Letters to the Editor.” E-mailed letters should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.