Visit any one of the 900 S-Market grocery stores in Finland at 9 PM each night and you’ll get deep discounts on soon-to-expire meat and fish. The purveyor calls this event “happy hour,” and it is certainly a joyous time for price-conscious shoppers. In addition to the deep discounts for customers, this happy hour has a larger purpose for the store: it is helping them to reduce waste and limit their impact on climate change.
For the past two years, S-Market has been working on ways to curb their food waste, and the happy hour has been a win-win-win for the company, consumers, and the planet. The shoppers can buy food that’s marked down from 30% to 60% while the grocer doesn’t have to pay more for disposal of unwanted foodstuffs. Thanks to this exchange, it helps keep food out of landfills (assuming the consumer uses what they bought) that would otherwise rot and emit methane—a gas that’s about 25 times more harmful than carbon dioxide.
While you might not think about it, reducing food waste is one step we can all take to live a more eco-conscious lifestyle. A recent UN report revealed that a staggering one-third of food produced and packaged for human consumption never gets eaten, which equates to about 1.3 billion tons a year worth nearly $680 billion.
So, the next time you go grocery shopping, first assess what you have left in your fridge and pantry. What can you make with foods that might expire soon? What can you buy to supplement what you already have? By taking the time to be thoughtful about your choices, you can help do your part to lower this type of waste.