by Amanda Forelich
Arash Derambarsh, the local councillor who kick-started the fight against food waste in his own Paris suburb, seeks to convince other countries to follow France’s lead and eliminate food waste.
Center: Aram Derambarsh Credit: Bertrand Guay/AFP
The internet was in a frenzy when France recently passed legislation making it illegal for stores to purposely waste discarded food. As many pointed out in the comments section of True Activist’s coverage, such an intelligent plan deserves to go global – and now it just might!
Arash Derambarsh, the local councillor who kick-started the fight against food waste in his own Paris suburb, has grand ambitions to convince more countries to follow France’s lead.
Derambarsh believes it is “scandalous and absurd” that food is wasted and in some cases deliberately spoiled while the homeless, poor, and unemployed go hungry.
And who can disagree? At present, the world wastes 1/3 of its food supply – and such a statistic is far from acceptable.
Arash took action by persuading French MPs to adopt the regulation banning deliberate food waste after a petition he initiated gained more than 200,000 signatures and celebrity support in just four months.
In response to the municipal councillor’s urging, the amendment was approved as part of a wider law – the Loi Macron – that covers economic activity and equality in France. It is expected to be passed by the national assembly on Tuesday, entering the statute books shortly after.
This new law will ban supermarkets from throwing away food approaching best-beforedates and deliberately poisoning products with bleach to stop foragers from rescuing the discarded products and putting them to good use.
But Derambarsh is not satiated just yet. He has plans to convince other European countries, as well as the entire world, to adopt similar bans.
While some believe the councillor’s ambition is naive or far from attainable, he – thankfully – has not been dissuaded.
“I have been insulted and attacked and accused of being naive and idealistic, but I became a local councillor because I wanted to help people. Perhaps it is naive to be concerned about other human beings, but I know what it is like to be hungry.
When I was a law student living on about €400 a month after I’d paid my rent, I used to have one proper meal a day around 5pm. I’d eat pasta, or potatoes, but it’s hard to study or work if you are hungry and always thinking about where the next meal will come from.”
And he’s not alone. At present, around 805 million worldwide do not have enough food, or about 1 in 9. And opposite of the notion that all starving individuals live in rural Africa, both low-wage working employees and homeless citizens in developed nations face similar risk of not being able to obtain enough food.
To witness success in the plan of taking the law global, Derambarsh plans to table the issue – via the campaign group ONE, founded by U2 singer Bono – when the United Nations discuss its Millenium development goals to end poverty in September as well as at the G20 economic summit in Turkey in November. He will also share it at the COP21 environment conference in Paris in December.
As The Guardian reports, an estimated 7.1 million tons of food is currently tossed into the bin every year in France – 67% by its consumers, 15% by restaurants, and 11% by shops. All together, the figure for food waste across the EU is 89 million tons, while an estimated 1.3 billion tons are wasted worldwide.
Perhaps the greatest byproduct of Derambarsh’s efforts is that awareness is being raised on a global level. Those who had no idea their country threw away so much food might be more inspired to utilize all their leftovers or donate their extra holiday dinners to those in need.
But don’t forget, one doesn’t need to wait for legislation to begin consuming more responsibly. You can help reduce food waste by shopping and utilizing your leftovers more efficiently. One way is to take a shopping list with you to the store to reduce the temptation of buying foods which may not be used before their best-before date; this will not only benefit your budget, but will help reduce the amount of food your household wastes.
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