Food waste

What I learned about waste from a tennis championship

I was watching a stellar classic tennis final: Wimbledon in 1980 and Bjorn Borg versus a young John McEnroe. Tennis is a great passion of mine, and I will beat my coach one day even though he’s a young 32-year-old CrossFit lover who was a junior champion in Poland. A middle-aged girl can dream, right?

You might be wondering: What on earth does a game of tennis have to do with leading a low-tox life? And here’s why it’s relevant…

There were lots of camera pan outs to the crowd, cheering on key points, as they do. After I got over the shock of seeing the cigarettes and cigars being liberally enjoyed, I noticed something else. There were all these enthralled people right there in the moment, yet no one had a plastic cup, bottle, glass, plate, chip packet or a pack of soggy, questionable nuggets, a burger, a corn dog, popcorn, fairy floss, churros, tornado potato or strawberries and cream. No one had a trendy reusable cup, nor bamboo cutlery nor compostable salad container either.

The waste from the excess consumption of snacks and their packaging, in particular, is hurting the planet.

The big “hit you in the face with the fact of it” moment was: no one was eating or drinking anything! It’s not to say that food and drink weren’t available on the grounds — Wimbledon’s “strawberries and cream” classic goes way back in time — but it’s that a 1980 sports crowd wasn’t mindlessly consuming in a “never off” fashion and amassing all the waste and chronic health issues that goes along with that recent behaviour of the past four decades.

I feel compelled to share this realisation with you now, because it may just be that your digestive issues, your toxic relationships and struggles with food control could do with the wisdom of that camera pan.

So I invite you to take a break from food any time that it’s not the natural focal point of the experience. Need an example of it not being a focal point? A sports match. Example of food being a focal point? Family mealtimes — get those happening as much as possible!

Eat on purpose. Ask yourself if you’re actually hungry. It’s a shame in those stadiums watching those incredible athletes isn’t it? We’re not entirely present to their genius nor to the food we’re eating — who’d want to be completely present to factory-farmed chicken nuggets, deep-fried in GMO canola oil, dipped in a sauce with food colourings and preservatives though, anyway, right?

I’m asking you to check in with yourself about everything you eat or drink in the day and how mindful you are of those things through the day. Are you having that wine because it’s absolutely delicious and you want to celebrate at a meaningful party? Or is it cheap wine at a work function you don’t actually even like the taste of or feel like?

Are you really hungry or is it just that the canapés are going around and you’re being polite? Did you really want that extra dessert serving? Did you really just offer food to your child while they were climbing up the monkey bars? Did you really ask a three-year old if they fancied a cupcake at 9 o’clock in the morning at a café?

Could you watch your favourite artist in concert or sports stars on the field or court and just simply be amazed? Do we really need a bright green cocktail in a plastic martini glass with an inbuilt green flashing light because it “themes well” with Wicked: The Musical? Does having chocolate equal having a break? Can you have a break without chocolate? Actually, don’t answer that. We both know the answer to that one.

How on earth did we get here, though?

Easy access to food and drink everywhere has bred a numbness in society. Offering food all the time and insisting people eat — at fairs, theme parks and family tables — has bred an acceptance and a normality of hyper consumption and it’s hurting your health. The waste from the excess consumption of snacks and their packaging, in particular, is hurting the planet.

Watching the tennis crowd being truly in the moment, along with the lack of waste generated by the attendees, really blew me away and seems a fitting thing to bring into the consciousness of your day.

Mindful for the win. Less waste for the win. Less junk for the win. The wins are endless when you decide to rethink how and when you eat. Really, when it comes to eating, it all boils down to this: not too much food and preferably at a table chatting to people you care about.

Alex Stuart

Alex Stuart

Alexx Stuart is a passionate educator in the space she calls "living a low-tox life". Through her speaking, workshops, e-courses and online community, she helps people make the best new choices for themselves, their family and the planet.

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