We have been told by many people even since our childhood to refrain from doing this or encouraged to do that, but we do not always know the reason behind that. We have mixed value instilled within us.
If someone works in F&B industry or has his own business selling food & beverages products, at the end of the day, most of the time it’s inevitable we have to throw away the food. The question is, is throwing food considered bad kamma or not? Is there occasion where the Buddha talked about this issue in the Sutta?
When we do something, even the same thing the intention is not always the same. For example, he can throw the food with the mind “the shop is closed now” or “save people from bad food” and of course with the mind “I’m gonna throw the food away”.
This is my understanding, do you guys have any thoughts? Do you think throwing food as mentioned above is considered bad kamma?
Please share your thoughts, thanks.
There are Vinaya rules about how monastics should discard excess alms food. (reference - help?) That can be an inspiration for laiety, to try to be mindful, do good and avoid harm in this, and really in any action we take.
Monasteries that I am familiar with, as well as some food banks, are happy to get donations of food that is too old to sell but still safe to eat. That would certainly be good kamma, especially with appropriate intention. Once reasonable options have been exhausted, I can’t imagine how properly (according to law and custom) discarding food that you legally or morally can’t sell would be bad kamma.
I am too stingy to throw away food, so I don’t overbuy in the first place. Is stinginess an example of good kamma?
Instead of throwing the food out, why not generously offer the food to the little creatures that live in the bin and the landfill site instead.
According to the Suttas and the Vinaya, there’s no problem throwing away excess food as long as you take care not to damage living plants or hurt animals.
For example in MN 128, Ven. Anuruddha describes the practise of the Sangha:
Whoever returns first from alms-round prepares the seats, and puts out the drinking water and the rubbish bin. If there’s anything left over, whoever returns last eats it if they like. Otherwise they throw it out where there is little that grows, or drop it into water that has no living creatures.
The kamma you create always depends on your intentions. As @Media already said, why not offer the leftovers to the insects and worms as a practise of generosity?
Now, Ānanda, gifts to the following persons may be expected to yield the following returns. To an animal, a hundred times. … (MN 142)
For some businesses, destroying excess inventory to promote core product value is a deliberate, intentional action taken to protect a brand or reduce costs. I would avoid such businesses. That avoidance is their kamma.
Coffee shops have excess coffee grounds (i.e., food). We help them out by buying whole coffee beans and disposing of grounds in our garden. This becomes the kamma of our mutual ongoing interaction. Others help out by asking for those coffee grounds directly. That also helps. From this, people are paid and gardens grow.
Excess is an opportunity for right action.