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World Food Day, 16 October 2016

What can I do?

Climate actions to change our world

Our planet is heating up. Glaciers are melting, sea levels are rising, and extreme weather events like droughts, cyclones and floods are becoming more common.  All of these events have two things in common: 1. they have the worst effect on the world’s poorest people, many of whom work as farmers, and make it harder for them to grow food; and 2. they threaten the global goal to end hunger by 2030.

The good news is that we can help. We need to waste less food, save our forests, protect the earth’s precious natural resources like water and land and consume less energy or use energy sources that cause less pollution, among other things.

What can YOU do about it? You can tackle climate change by changing your daily habits and making simple decisions. We challenge you to pick four of the actions below and stick to them. Tell us about your actions to combat climate change by using the hashtag #WFD2016 on social networks!

Preserve the earth’s precious natural resources

The earth provides us with everything we need to grow food and live healthy lives, in the form of natural resources. These resources are land, water, animals and plants. We can’t grow food without water and soil, and we will have a much harder time growing enough healthy and nutritious food if the water we have is polluted and the soil has been stripped of all the rich minerals that make it fertile.  If we want to be able to continue to grow enough safe and nutritious food for everyone on the planet we have to protect our natural resources.

Don’t waste water.

Don’t waste water.

Take a short shower rather than a bath. Bathtubs use gallons more water than a 5-10 minute shower. And turn off the water while brushing your teeth. Cleaning your teeth with the tap running uses 6 litres of water, while cleaning them with the tap off uses less than 1 litre of water. If you notice any leaks, fix them! A leaky tap can waste more than 11 thousand litres of water in a year, while a toilet leak can waste around over 700 litres of water a day. If you use a dishwasher, stop rinsing your plates before you run the machine. Fill your washing machine with a full load and hang clothes to dry on a clothes line rather than tumble-drying them. This will save water, electricity and washing powder. You can also water your garden using collected rainwater and ‘grey water’, which is the water you use to wash your hands and/or dirty dishes.

Diversify your diet.

Diversify your diet.

Try to eat an all-veggie meal (including pulses like lentils, beans, peas and chickpeas) instead of one meat meal a week. More natural resources are used to provide meat than plants or pulses, especially water. Millions of acres of rainforest are also slashed and burned in order to turn the land into grass pastures for livestock including cows.  Discover some recipes for tasty pulse meals and some interesting facts provided especially for the International Year of Pulses.

Keep fish populations afloat.

Keep fish populations afloat.

Convince your friends and family to eat fish species that are more abundant, such as mackerel or herring, rather than those that are at risk of being overfished, like cod or tuna. You can also buy fish that has been caught or farmed sustainably, such as eco-labelled or certified fish, and if you order seafood at a restaurant, always ask if it’s sustainable seafood.

Keep soils and water clean.

Keep soils and water clean.

Pick up litter and choose household cleaners, paint and other products that are free from bleach or other strong chemicals. By reducing litter and using eco-friendly products you can limit water contamination and soil degradation.

Buy organic

Buy organic

Organic farming helps our soil to stay healthy and retain its ability to store carbon, which helps reduce climate change. Look out for organic and fair-trade products available in your local supermarkets or farmers’ markets

Energy efficient is best

Energy efficient is best

Buy energy efficient household appliances or fuel-efficient cars and don’t forget to maintain your car. A well-tuned car will emit fewer toxic fumes. Save energy also by unplugging your TV, stereo or computer, rather than leaving them on standby, and by using energy efficient lightbulbs. You could also put on an extra jumper in the winter and turn down your heating, and shade the windows from the sun in summertime.

Use solar panels or other green energy systems

Use solar panels or other green energy systems

Find out if you can do so at home, school or at work by researching available grants and government incentives.

Waste less

Just like the carbon footprint we produce every year, through the release of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide (by travelling in cars or planes and using electricity for example), we also produce a foodprint through the hidden emissions of the foods we choose to eat. Unlike a car, you can’t see the release of greenhouse gases from your dinner, but the hidden trail of a meal’s entire trip from the farm to your plate is filled with carbon-emitting processes. In addition to eating more vegetables or pulses and less meat, we can also reduce waste in the following ways.

Buy only what you need

Buy only what you need

Plan your meals, make a shopping list and stick to it, and avoid impulse buys. Not only will you waste less, you’ll also save money!

Pick ugly fruit and vegetables

Pick ugly fruit and vegetables

Try some ugly fruit and vegetables and make use of food that might otherwise go to waste. Funny fruit or veg are often thrown away because they don’t meet cosmetic standards. But in fact, they taste the same, if not better.

Don’t let labels fool you

Don’t let labels fool you

There’s a big difference between “best-before” and “use-by” dates. Sometimes food is still safe to eat after the “best before” date, whereas it’s the “use by” date, which tells you when it‘s no longer safe to eat. Check before you throw it out

Limit your plastic

Limit your plastic

Buy minimally packaged goods, bring your own bag when you shop, use refillable water bottles and coffee cups.

Recycle paper, plastic, glass and aluminium

Recycle paper, plastic, glass and aluminium

Recycle paper, plastic, glass and aluminium and reduce the amount of waste that goes to landfills.

Store food wisely

Store food wisely

When you stack up your cupboards or fridge, move older products to the front and new ones to the back. Once open, use air tight containers to keep it fresh in the fridge or close packets to prevent insects from spoiling them

Love your leftovers

Love your leftovers

If you’ve cooked too much, don’t throw it away! Freeze a portion for another day or transform it into something else for the next day’s meal. If you’re at a restaurant, less is more. Ask for half a portion if you think a full one might be too big and ask to take your leftovers home. Again, you’ll save food and money.

Make plant food

Make plant food

Some food waste is unavoidable, so why not set up a compost bin for fruit and vegetable peelings. Composting food scraps can reduce climate impact while also recycling nutrients and giving your garden a boost.

Other ways to be climate smart

Be rubbish-savvy

Be rubbish-savvy

In addition to reducing, re-using and recycling, learn about how to recycle or dispose of household items that should never be thrown in a regular rubbish bin - batteries, paints, mobile phones, medicine, chemicals, fertilizers, tires, ink cartridges, etc. These can be damaging to the environment, especially if they get into water systems. Plastic that is irresponsibly discarded can severely damage marine habitats and kill large numbers of marine animals each year.

Make cities greener

Make cities greener

Add some green to the scene by creating and maintaining school gardens, community gardens on vacant lots, or container gardens on rooftops and apartment balconies. Encourage your local authority to consider sprouting roof gardens instead of heat-absorbing gravel and black tar. All this plant matter creates shade, cleans the air, cools the cityscape, and reduces water pollution

Shop local. Shop KM 0

Shop local. Shop KM 0

By buying local produce, you can support neighbourhood businesses and lower your foodprint, for example, by preventing trucks from driving long distances.

Protect forests and save paper

Protect forests and save paper

Collect scrap paper and use it for drawing and notes. Buy and use recycled paper. Design a “No junk mail” sign and put it on your letter box. Use as little paper as possible: photocopy and print on both sides. Better still, print only when you really need to.  When you buy paper — printer paper, paper towels, toilet paper, etc. — make sure they are forest-friendly, and try to buy furniture that is made from sustainably sourced timber or plywood.

Bike, walk or use public transport

Bike, walk or use public transport

Reduce your carbon footprint by leaving your car at home or give others a lift if you’re going in the same direction. 

Be a conscientious consumer

Be a conscientious consumer

Do a bit of online research and buy only from companies that you know have sustainable practices and don’t harm the environment.

Keep up to date on climate change

Keep up to date on climate change

Follow your local news and stay in touch with FAO’s climate change website  or social media at @FAOclimate

Be an advocate!

Be an advocate!

If you see an interesting social media post about climate change, share it rather than simply liking it. And make yourself heard! Find out more about your local and national authorities and think of ways they could be engaged in initiatives that are aimed at helping the planet. If you can, take advantage of your right to vote for leaders in your country and local community.

Pass it on

Pass it on

See what clothes, toys or books you can pass on to friends, family and charity organizations. Better yet, buy second-hand books, clothes and other goods as much as possible to save energy and money

Be an Eco-traveler

Be an Eco-traveler

When you go on holidays, consider avoiding air travel if you can. Planes emit a huge amount of CO2 into the atmosphere. If you can’t avoid it, ask the air company or travel agency about ways to offset your carbon emissions by making a contribution to a renewable energy project, or participate in a tree planting campaign

Promote eco babies

Promote eco babies

Buy cloth nappies/diapers for your baby or switch to a new, environmentally responsible disposable brand.