Begun in 1972, it’s an annual event aiming to promote the importance of the environment, and motivate positive actions at a global level.
Each year, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) allocates a different environmental theme that challenges people to become change agents and get together to move the world forward to a development basis that is more sustainable and equitable.
World Environment Day has received remarkable support from public, non-profit organisations and governments around the world. Below are some examples of the various awareness campaigns that have been used throughout the years:
1985: Youth, Population and Environment
1989: Global Warming
1994: One Earth, One Family
1999: Our Earth, Our Future...Just Save It
2005: Green Cities Plan for the Planet!
2010: Many Species One Planet One Future
This year 2013, the campaign was ‘Think. Eat. Save – Reduce Your Foodprint”.
This campaign was inspired by the situation in Mongolia where economic growth is expanding very quickly and will probably result in a food crisis in the near future.
In Phuket, many organisations held activities to celebrate World Environment Day. The Regional Environment Office 15 Phuket (REO 15) together with Phuket Provincial Administrative Organisation, Vachira Phuket Hospital, and Phuket Provincial Office of Natural Resources and Environment set up exhibitions and drawing competitions under this year’s campaign theme at Vachira Phuket Hospital.
There were also events and relevant courses held at the Prince of Songkla University and even at the shopping centre in Jungceylon, where there was an exhibition about food wastage.
The main message from the slogan “Think. Eat. Save” is to think before you eat, and help save our environment. It is aimed to motivate people to be aware of the environmental impact of leftover food.
According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), every year 1.3 billion tons of food is wasted. This is equivalent to the same amount produced in the whole of sub-Saharan Africa.
At the same time, 1 in every 7 people in the world go to bed hungry and more than 20,000 children under the age of 5 die every day from hunger.
While the planet is struggling to provide us with enough resources to sustain its 7 billion people (growing to an estimated 9 billion by 2050), FAO estimates that a third of global food production is either wasted or lost. Food waste is an enormous drain on natural resources and a contributor to negative environmental impacts.
Food waste means that all resources and inputs used in food production such as water, land, labour are also lost. For example, to produce 1 litre of milk you use 1,000 litres of water.
In the United States, the proportion of organic waste is the second largest contributor to landfills, and the largest producer of methane gas. In Thailand, organic waste is the largest contributor to landfills.
The Think. Eat. Save campaign also promotes people to take action at a household level. Just start by making a smart decision before buying food: check the expiry date, select food that has a low environmental impact, such as organic foods that do not use chemicals in the production process.
Buying local food is also a good choice because it means that foods are not flown halfway across the world and therefore result in fewer CO2 emissions.
Rice is the staple diet for Thai people. The process of rice production is time consuming and needs plenty of resources. Moreover, to make streamed rice, you need water to clean it and lots of energy to cook it.
If after every meal 10 million Thais left one spoon of rice (11 grams) uneaten, and an unfinished glass of water (20 ml), it would mean wasting 200,000 litres of water, 15,000 kilowatts of electricity, 750 litres of gasoline, and 9 tons of minerals. It would also release 200 tons of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, and generate around 73 tons of organic waste.
Therefore, from now on, lets all change our eating habits by finishing our meals and drinks.