09/07/2016 12:00 EDT | Updated 09/07/2016 12:00 EDT

A Trip To Costco Sparked My Crusade To Reduce Food Waste

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Woman shopping in a supermarket

It is evident that there is a problem with food waste in North America. The simple fact that one out of nine people in this world are going hungry every day, and that 40 per cent of food (in Canada alone) is thrown in the garbage proves this to be true.

Even though I understand Costco alone is not to blame for this issue, the reason I started my petition against them was simply because this is where I was faced first hand with the substantial problem that exists regarding sustainable food waste management.

I was approached by many people regarding my petition asking me why I only targeted Costco when many other companies have the same throw-away policy. It's because I often shop at Costco because they do many great things (treat their employees well, fund organic farming, refuse to sell GMO salmon, etc.) and I figured that if they were willing to make a change, then other companies might be inspired to be more sustainable with their food. I also thought that I would make more progress by pressuring one company rather than putting a blanket statement over all super markets.

The fact that food is discarded because we "have too much" or because it doesn't look right goes to show that this food management program is not working right.

While shopping in Costco one day, I was approached by an employee who asked me if I wanted to add some ground beef to my shopping cart, as whatever was not sold by the end of the day would be thrown in the garbage.

My first reaction was an emphatic, "Wow, you guys are giving this away for free, that's awesome!" The employee responded that no, it was not free. So I asked what type of discount was being offered to encourage the meat to be sold by the end of the night. They replied that there was none, and the meat was full price.

I pressed the employee on the reason why this meat would be thrown out, seeing as the best before date was not until tomorrow. They stated that they simply produced too much -- they therefore did not have the space for it and it only had one day left until expiry.

I asked if this meat would be offered to any of the Costco employees, used in the Costco cafeteria or frozen meals, or donated to charity to feed hungry people, and the answer was no, apparently due to liability risks.

This made me very angry.


Not only because the meat could easily be used for hundreds of meals that night, the next day, or even frozen and used at a later date, but because I understand the horrors of factory farming. The fact is that poor cows were abused and given no respect before they were slaughtered for mass production to be sold at a cheap cost for people. Even though I am not a vegetarian, I do limit my meat consumption and I do my best to buy local and ethically raised meats, knowing the animals were not tortured their entire lives.

The fact that in North America food is discarded because we "have too much" or because it doesn't look right, or enough wasn't sold and it can be thrown away without a second thought goes to show that this food management program is not working right. Much of the food available to us in grocery stores is imported from other countries. We as a society need to learn the importance of eating locally and seasonally.

Following my conversation at Costco, my anger built up as I drove home and I realized that I couldn't just stand by and not do anything about this very important issue. Since I sign multiple petitions every day, I decided this was my opportunity to create my own in order to bring awareness to this tragic issue. I believe that if we all work together, there are so many good things that can happen: fewer animals being killed for no reason, and more people going to bed at night with a full stomach.

There is no reason that so much food should be thrown in the garbage because people do not want to deal with it or be liable for it. I am so happy to see that there is awareness being brought to this issue and I believe the next step is to pressure our government to follow in France's footsteps and make is illegal to throw away perfectly good food!

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