SDGs & You

The SDGs and You; A Focus on Sustainable Consumption of Food

SDGs and You, what has been your expectation and execution

We must remember that we have only 10 years, 5 weeks, and a few days left to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). 10 years might seem like a million years from today, but just a quick reminder that we are racing towards 2030.

According to the United Nations, the Sustainable Development Goals are a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity by 2030. They are a collection of 17 global goals designed to be a blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all.

While we wait for the Government to fulfill their part so Nigeria can attain full coverage of the SDGs, there are a few things the Government cannot do for us as individuals. There are a few things we must do as individuals with regards to ensuring sustainable consumption (SDG 12) with an emphasis on reducing food waste at the consumer level.

Kachi went to the market and bought 2 kilos of beef and 2 kilos of tilapia fish and hopes to cook, fry, and store them in the freezer for the week ahead. She comes home each night from work and is too tired to cook a proper meal so she buys a plate of rice from the restaurant opposite her house or makes noodles. During the weekend, she is clearing her fridge and she sees the meat and fish in the fridge and concludes it is no longer fresh because the power supply is not constant and throws them into the waste bin.

Mr. Tokunbo is celebrating his 60th birthday and has decided to celebrate in a grand style. Every and any food you can think of is readily available; from the national Jollof rice to pounded yam and efo riro to Chinese rice and all sorts of assorted small chops. Food is in abundance and everyone is served like a king. At the end of the party, there is a lot of leftovers and they are all thrown into the waste bin.

So how does food waste affect you and me? According to the U.N.’s ThinkEatSave, when food waste decomposes in a landfill or any other place without oxygen, this produces methane which is a strong greenhouse gas which is approximately 20 times more harmful than carbon dioxide. This in turn contributes to the depletion of the ozone layer, which ultimately results in higher temperatures and adversely affects climate change (SDG 13).

Several places asides the designated landfills have been turned to refused dumps; there are heaps of refuse on several streets. Living in these areas is harmful to our health as a result of air pollution which could lead to respiratory diseases. Also, when it rains on these landfills and refuse dumps, chemical ammonia is produced which is detrimental to the health if exposed to high concentrations of the chemical. These effects prevent individuals from
living a fully healthy life as provided in SDG 3 – ensure healthy lives and promote wellbeing for all at all ages.

How then can we ensure sustainable consumption? Firstly, purchase only what you need at the time of consumption. There is a tendency for most of us to purchase more than what we need probably because we have spare cash or we do not want to make the frequent trips to the market. Whatever the reason might be, we should buy just what we can consume before it gets rotten or expires.

Secondly, change your mind-set; the Sustainable Development Goals are not some abstract ideas to be achieved only by the Government and the United Nations. Your effort as an individual is essential for us to achieve these goals as a country by 2030. Another way you can contribute to ensuring sustainable consumption is by educating your family, neighbors, friends, co-workers, etc. You do not have to stand in a classroom before you educate; do this through your social media pages, word of mouth, and most importantly by your actions.

Lastly, volunteer with any organization whether a non-profit, civic organization or for-profit organizations to help achieve any of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. There are quite a number of these organizations, you just have to look for one that you are more passionate about. “The Sustainable Development Goals cannot be achieved without people’s engagement at all stages. Volunteers can facilitate and support participatory approaches in planning, implementing, and monitoring the SDGs.” – United Nations Volunteer (UNV) key messages on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) And if you do not have the time to volunteer, be an intentional consumer!

The SDGs are vital issues affecting our lives and it is essential that we fully understand what is at stake; the goals are connected and taking action in one will ultimately affect the outcomes in others.

This article was written by Naomi Yissa, A SDGs champion and an outstanding content writer with TYLC.

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