Clean Plate, cleaner energy, cleaner collaboration and a cleaner world
Updated 15:00, 30-Sep-2020
Sushant Shrestha

Editor's note: This is a letter from Sushant Shrestha, who is an undergraduate student studying at Nanjing Medical University in China, sharing his understanding of China's newly implemented Clean Plate Campaign.

2020 saw a lot of wider reforms in China's various sectors ranging from finance to trade and economics. But one simple, not-so-new, but very potentially impactful initiative that got a wide attention in August is China's Clean Plate Campaign.

There was a similar initiative in 2013, but this time as the Chinese President Xi Jinping called on for an end to food waste and promoting thrift, widespread public participation was encouraged. The approaches to this initiative might vary in the degree of creativity and organizational policies, but one thing apparently looks clear is that this idea is largely commendable especially owing to the nutritional, environmental and collaborative impacts it can foster.

Here is how a clean plate contributes to a cleaner energy, a cleaner collaboration and a cleaner world.

Addresses mindful eating, obesity and food security together

While the 17 to 18 million tons of food is adequate to fill 30 to 50 million starving friends, ordering one dish less and thinking twice before eating does definitely encourage one to be mindful while eating. Mindful eating is conducive to boosting productivity and preventing waste in order to strengthen food security. A clean plate helps address similar, but contrasting two issues bothering different sections of the society.

While clean plate is good news to a poor family in a rural village, it is not bad news for mother, who has an obese kid in Shanghai. Moreover, being conscious about what we eat is also an apparent approach to move towards nutritional value of food and relating it to productivity and social-economic well-being, rather than hinging up being ungrateful and unsatisfied.

A clean plate is not only about being thrifty, but being grateful to the farmer, and it's about honoring the Asian culture, while at the same time recognizing the scientific value of nutrient focused food for social well-being.

Embraces the spirit of Sustainable Development Goals and climate change

COVID-19 is believed to have pushed more than 71 million people into poverty according to this year's Global Economic Prospect Report. The scenario of climate change still remains a challenge.

But when we add some other data to this, the picture becomes somewhat different. 125 liters of water is spent on an average to grow an apple, and more than 15,400 liters for rearing cattle. In addition to the direct trash, wasting food also includes the waste of resources that have been put into for its production.

An initiative like a Clean Plate might sound small to many, but when we look at the larger picture, the underlying issues it addresses are quite large. For instance, the initiative directly addresses five SDGS of zero hunger, good health, reduced inequality, responsible consumption, and climate action.

A single clean plate might sound like a personal choice, but millions and billions of clean plates can really help clear some of the daunting issues the world faces.

Cleaner collaboration for a cleaner world

The world seems to be too full of tensions, polarization and misunderstandings. As the world prepares itself to deal with the post-COVID challenges, collaboration is something that is indispensable, especially when it comes to addresses the issues of sustainability, climate change and poverty.

In this regard too, China's Clean Plate, India's Zero Hunger Initiative, China's target to become carbon neutral by 2060, and India's Global Solar Alliance, seem to share some common values that can reinforce and complement each other, meanwhile delivering enormous benefits to the global well-being.

While economic and territorial diplomacy might seem a daunting task, climate and science diplomacy are two aspects that have a wide prospect to deliver greater good, for a cleaner collaboration and a cleaner world.

A clean plate is about good health, a cleaner world, better social justice and better social-economic well-being. One's choice of food might see a little compromise, but I still feel that this idea is of greater good when it comes to preventive aspects of human health.

As People's Republic of China marks to celebrate 71st anniversary, an initiative to encourage "Clean Plate" is quite commendable and inspiring, especially in an era where countries are busy first depriving food of their nutrients, and then marketing them big as "clean supplements."

A clean plate for a cleaner world!

Sushant Shrestha

An undergraduate student at Nanjing Medical University

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