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Italians love food

In 2017 my family and I embarked on a 10-month trip around the world. We travelled to dozens of countries on four continents. All were very diverse with their own cultures and norms, however one common trend was the fact that so much waste was generated by the food industry.

In Asia, we saw rivers full of plastic food packaging, in some cases so much that you would not know it was a river, you would think that it was an open garbage dump. The plastic was there one day, then gone the next big rainfall. All of this plastic ended up in the Mekong River; which in turn dumped into the South China Sea. In Bali we surfed one of the most famous beaches in among plastic bags and beverage bottles. On one day at the beach, there was not even one square foot of sand below the high tide line that didn’t have a piece of plastic on it.

However the people in developing countries don’t waste food, at least not to the degree we do.

Western and Southern Europe are not nearly as bad for plastic pollution due to robust waste collection, but the trend toward convenience food of all types has caused a significant increase in food waste. In an unprecedented step, Italy has passed law to provide tax incentives to food industry businesses that donate waste food to charitable organizations (France for example has chosen to fine businesses that waste food).

The benefits are many; the cities reduce their load on waste infrastructure, the charities feed the poor more easily, the businesses benefit from tax breaks, and the food industry benefits by becoming more efficient. In Western countries that have a 30% food surplus, it is amazing that there are people who are hungry. This new law helps to change that at it’s basic level. It is the very essence of being human and that which separates us from animals; the ability and will to protect and help the weaker members of our society when they need it the most.

In other top 5 news stories, Ethiopia plants 350 million trees in one day setting a new record, Zara announces a new sustainability plan for fabric, one person’s plan to banish Eco-Guilt from her life and two US states ban plastic bags by 2020.

1) Italy passes law to send unsold food to charities instead of dumpsters

Italy is introducing a series of incentives to end food waste. Instead of throwing away leftover food, Italy wants businesses that sell food to donate unsold to charities rather than throw it away. The environmental, economic and moral benefits are so clear that the bill received broad support across all political parties and is speeding through the approval process. The next step will be getting businesses to comply, providing some sort of nudge to change the current model of careless waste. Other countries such as France are nudging businesses in the form of a steep fine. Italy is taking a different approach. Instead of imposing penalties, the country will give garbage collection tax breaks to businesses that take part in the initiative. All food donated by businesses has to be recorded so the tax break will be easy to implement. Currently, the country spends more than $13 billion USD on waste management. Through this latest bill, legislators want to cut down on expenses. Ultimately, they want to recover 1 billion tonnes of excess food in 2016, up from last year’s total of 550 million tonnes

Italy passes law to send unsold food to charities instead of dumpsters

2) Ethiopia ‘breaks’ tree-planting record to tackle climate change

Ethiopia has planted more than 350 million trees in a day, officials say, in what they believe is a world record. Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed is leading the project, which aims to counter the effects of deforestation and climate change in the drought-prone country. Some public offices have been shut down to allow civil servants to take part. The UN says Ethiopia’s forest coverage declined from 35% of total land in the early 20th Century to a little above 4% in the 2000s. Africa Live: More on this and other stories The leader promising to heal a nation The women smashing Ethiopia’s glass ceiling Mr Abiy launched the tree-planting exercise as part of his Green Legacy Initiative, which is taking place in 1,000 sites across the country. Officials were assigned to count the seedlings being planted by volunteers, reports BBC’s Kalkidan Yibeltal in the capital, Addis Ababa. Ethiopia’s Minister of Innovation and Technology Getahun Mekuria tweeted that more than 350 million trees were planted in 12 hours!

Ethiopia ‘breaks’ tree-planting record to tackle climate change

3) Zara Pledges to Make All Its Clothes From Sustainable Fabrics by 2025

Green is the new black at Zara. The Spanish fast fashion behemoth has made a bold move to steer its industry to a more environmentally friendly future for textiles. Inditex, Zara’s parent company, announced that all the polyester, cotton and linen it uses will be sustainably produced by 2025, as CNN reported. The same guidelines will govern Inditex’s other fashion brands, including Zara Home, Pull & Bear, Massimo Dutti and Bershka. Inditex has nearly 7,500 stores worldwide. The announcement was made at Inditex’s annual shareholder meeting last week. It makes Zara, which accounts for 70 percent of Inditex’s sales, the first major international retailer to set such an ambitious target. “We need to be a force for change, not only in the company but in the whole sector,” said Pablo Isla, the chief executive of Inditex, as The Guardian reported. “We are the ones establishing these targets: the strength and impulse for change is coming from the commercial team, the people who are working with our suppliers, the people working with fabrics. It is something that’s happening inside our company.” Inditex’s pledge to use 100 percent sustainable cottons and linens, and completely recycled polyester in all of its designs

Zara Pledges to Make All Its Clothes From Sustainable Fabrics by 202529

4) Banishing Eco-Guilt

Today I’m committing to banishing eco-guilt from my life and I want you to do the same. Yes we are facing an environmental disaster but placing the blame on ourselves isn’t fair. You know, if you have been on this blog for more than five minutes, that I am all about taking action so I’m not proposing that we let ourselves off the hook. I just want us to be kinder to ourselves and leave the eco-guilt behind. First of all, although the feeling of guilt can motivate us to act to remediate the consequences of our actions (or inactions), the shame and embarrassment that arise from guilt are perhaps more likely to lead to avoidance and inaction. Furthermore action that we do take as a result of eco-guilt is, I suggest, motivated not by a desire for a healthier planet but to make ourselves feel better. Going back to Simon Sinek’s Golden Circle, continued progress towards our goals is aided by focusing on a deep ‘why’ and I believe that “to make myself feel better” is not deep and powerful enough for sustained action…

Banishing Eco-Guilt

5) Maine and Vermont Pass Plastic Bag Bans on the Same Day

Governors in Vermont and Maine signed bills on Monday that will ban plastic bags in their states next year, The Hill reported. The Maine ban will go into effect next Earth Day, April 22, 2020. The Vermont ban, which extends beyond plastic bags and is the most comprehensive plastics ban so far, will go into effect in July 2020. The wait time is designed to give businesses time to adjust to the ban. Gov. Janet Mills signed the Maine bill early Monday morning, making Maine the fourth state to ban single-use plastic bags after California, Hawaii and New York. Maine will allow stores to charge at least 5 cents for paper bags or reusable plastic bags that are able to withstand 75 repeated uses. Those bags are made from heavier plastic than single-use bags, the AP reported. The measure does provide exceptions for certain types of bags, including bags for produce, prescription drugs, newspapers, laundry and live animals, according to the Portland Press Herald . “Today, we took an important step towards protecting the wildlife and landscapes that support Maine’s economy,” said Rep. Holly Stover, one of the bill’s chief sponsors.

Maine and Vermont Pass Plastic Bag Bans on the Same Day

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