PETALING JAYA: Yasmin Rasyid, a 40-year-old mother of two, can teach her fellow Malaysians a thing or two about managing food waste in the household.
The founder of the environmental group EcoKnights knows that a few tweaks here and there in people’s planning and habits can go a long way in cutting down the amount of food that goes into the trash.
“Number one is knowing your family’s eating habits,” she said.
“I’m not big on grocery shopping for an entire month because I can’t commit to cooking every day.
“So I’m the kind who would only buy groceries when I know I am going to be cooking,” she said.
Another area Yasmin focuses on is storing leftovers, which she said many people did not do properly.
“Food can go rotten even if it is stored in the fridge,” she said.
For those cooking at home and in bulk, she suggested packing freshly cooked food into containers and freezing it immediately.
“I’m meticulous when it comes to storing food.
“When I cook a big pot of curry or pasta, I actually portion it out as single meals and put these into the freezer for my teenage kids to heat up when they get home,” she said.
Yasmin also makes composting a regular part of her routine.
This, she said, would reduce the amount of trash thrown out and subsequently, the need for landfills – if Malaysians picked up the habit.
She said Malaysians needed to be aware of the difference between their appetites and what they can actually eat, especially with Ramadan around the corner.
“For a stomach that fits 400 to 500gm of food, we’re now buying close to one kilogram of food, thinking that we can eat it later,” she said. “That rarely happens.”
Yasmin also warned about the wastage associated with buffets, where she said people tried to get their “money’s worth”.
She said that her family pledged not to go to buffets and had not for the last two years.
Asked if all her waste saving habits saved her any money, Yasmin replied in the affirmative.
“You may think ‘come on, I just wasted only two ringgit on this meal because I didn’t finish it’.
“But what if this is habitual and it’s every day. So, collectively, over a year, if you accumulate all of the food you wasted, it would be a substantial amount,” she pointed out.
In order to foster a mindset of not wasting food, Yasmin said she sometimes had to become a “monster mum”.
Her children did not take to eating leftovers so they acquired the habit of finishing their meals.
“It’s also about continuous enforcement of knowledge and education with the children, which I do all the time,” she said, adding that both she and her husband were strict about eating habits at home.
“I think to build a generation of conscious children who respect food and do not embody the ‘disposable’ attitude, parents play a critical role,” she said.
“Adults need to step up.”