All you can eat

According to the definition given by the Brundtland Commission, sustainable development is a "development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs."

Identifying these needs are crucial when searching for opportunities and solutions for the many problems we face. These needs, however, do not exclusively describe our actual needs. They do not only describe the amount of oxygen or the amount of water needed for projected populations of future generations to survive. These needs also describe our quality of life, our habits and our lifestyle in general.

This lifestyle is where sustainability becomes an issue for people. Although many are willing to work on technological changes, there are only few who are willing to change their lifestyle. (Mulder, Ferrer & van Lente, 2011) Thankfully, even without changing your lifestyle and without technical knowledge, there are ways to become a bit more sustainable.

Hotel Union Geiranger in Norway has found a clever way to reduce their food and liquid waste. The Hotel Union saved around $16,000 in food costs by simply introducing smaller plates at its buffet meals. By reducing the plate size, guests became more selective about how much they pile onto their plates, resulting in major food waste reductions. By decreasing the height of the drinking glass by half a centimeter, Geiranger has also created a substantial saving in liquids. (Monday Morning Global Institute, 2014)

According to UNEP, simple actions by consumers and food retailers can dramatically cut the 1,3 billion tons of food lost or wasted each year (1/3 of all food produced in the world). Environmentally, food loss and waste generate many impacts including greenhouse gas emissions and inefficiently used water and land, which in turn can lead to diminished natural ecosystems.

The beauty of this simple solution is that it does not only benefit the environment, but it also clearly benefits the Hotel Union. Simple solutions like this can be implemented anywhere without a large investment, without technical knowledge and even more important, without changing your lifestyle. Due to the benefits for, in this case, the Hotel Union, this is a solution that many similar restaurants would be able to apply. This could diminish food waste, even at "All you can eat" places.

Monday Morning Global Institute. (2014). Sustania100  Retrieved 17-11, 2014, from
Mulder, K., Ferrer, D., & van Lente, H. (2011). What is sustainable technology? Sheffield: Greenleaf Publishing.

Pieter van Hall

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