WE often wonder if the small things we do create any impact for something as large as our planet, if our individual choices really matter so much. World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Philippines thinks those choices can change the world, and it starts with one of the most basic human activities: eating.
In a talk on May 28, Sustainable Consumer Specialist for the organization’s Sustainable Diner project Lorayne Roque, along with former Miss Universe and WWF ambassador Pia Wurtzbach, summarized the project’s offerings and offered access to its findings and research. The project has been ongoing since 2017. “We’re working on integrating sustainability principles into food-related national and local policies,” said Ms. Roque. The project’s aims can be distilled into five precepts: conserving energy and water, using local and seasonal produce, reducing the use of single-use plastics, eating more plant-based dishes, and reducing food waste.
In order to do this, Ms. Roque points at four tools: research, policy, business interventions, and education. The findings from the Sustainable Diner project can be accessed through the WWF website’s Publications section (wwf.org.ph). While some of their materials are already out, some will be released by next month.
For example, materials that have already been released include Climate Plate, learning modules that have been developed for primary and secondary teachers so that they may include environmental concepts into their lessons (even those in language). A similar program was developed in partnership with the University of the Philippines Los Banos (UPLB) for college teachers in courses that relate to food (tourism, hotel and restaurant management, culinary arts, and nutrition). “Sustainable dining is the future. It’s so important for universities to be at the forefront of these kinds of movements in order to equip future generations accordingly,” she said.
Meanwhile, on the field of research, the organization’s Life Cycle Assessment is also available, which studied a few participating restaurants and their processes including procurement, storage, preparation, and disposal. These processes were aligned to their carbon footprint, with operations raking in 58% of an establishment’s carbon footprint. This means that the largest factor is the one that can be controlled by business owners. Incidentally, the study also yielded which common Filipino dishes leave the biggest carbon footprint (story here: https://www.bworldonline.com/saving-the-planet-one-dish-at-a-time/).
Meanwhile, a Cost Benefit Analysis balanced the costs, expenses, and long-term benefits of sustainability measures and their environmental impacts. This boiled down to three points: water treatment (buy filters instead of buying bottled water), reducing excess food (either use them as ingredients for other meals or as side dishes or make new dishes out of them), and through soft and residual measures (some of these are as simple as turning off lights in the daytime, repairing leaks, and reducing plastic use). “The small actions really have the bigger impacts,” Ms. Roque said.
The organization has helped craft a food waste reduction policy in Cebu City, where excess food from establishments such as restaurants, supermarkets, and the like, can be segregated. Perfectly acceptable food can be sent to Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) food banks, while food that is no longer acceptable or edible can be composted.
“We are able to divert the food waste from the landfills and then it can still be useful for people and our land,” said Ms. Roque in a mix of English and Filipino. “It’s only a matter of time before we have a national law actually addressing wasted food in the Philippines.” She says that a similar ordinance to the one in Cebu is coming to Quezon City.
They have also released tools for businesses to monitor their own sustainability measures (such as their own materials to conduct their own Cost Benefit Analyses) and training and teaching modules on such topics such as urban gardening, plastic use, food waste and safety, among others.
“We can all be sustainable diners, and remember that collective actions lead to huge impacts.”
To access WWF’s materials, visit wwf.org.ph/resource-center/publications/. — JLG