What is Food Waste?
Food waste, also known as food loss, is when you throw food that is perfectly safe for human consumption. Food waste can occur along the entire food supply chain, from the producing and processing phase to the end household consumer level.
Why is Food Waste a Problem?
Unfortunately, when food waste is dumped in landfill (especially in black bin bags) it quickly rots and releases harmful gases like methane. To put it into perspective, methane is 21 times more potent than carbon dioxide when it comes to global warming potential. There are also a number of resources that go into growing, transporting and storing that food, for example, food that is never eaten accounts for 25% of all fresh water consumption globally.
According to food waste app, Olio, UK households throw out approximately £700 worth of food every year, that's an average of 22% of your weekly shop. Shockingly, between 33% and 50% of all food produced globally is never eaten. The value of that wasted food is over a $1 trillion! But, food waste doesn't just have an effect on your finances, it has an even bigger impact on the environment. If food waste were a country, it would be the third largest emitter of greenhouse gases after China and the USA.
How Can I Reduce My Food Waste?
50% of the world's food waste comes straight from households. That is absolutely shocking, but it also means we have the power to change that and do something about it.
There are a number of ways you can dramatically reduce the food you throw and save money in the meantime.
1. Plan your meals
Planning your meals is so important when it comes to reducing your food waste. It means that you just buy the ingredients you need rather than a whole bunch of stuff that may not end up being used in a meal and therefore go off. Every Sunday, I plan the following week's meals (including packed lunches) and then do the food shopping with that in mind. If one night we spontaneously decide to go out for dinner, then I'll move meals around so that the following meal contains the ingredients that are most likely to go off.
Some weeks I'll have leftover fresh ingredients, which means for the following week I'll ensure that my meal plan contains a recipe that uses that exact ingredient at the beginning of the week, to avoid it going off and throwing it.
2. Get a compost bin...if you can
If you have a garden, a compost bin can be an amazing way to reduce the amount of food being dumped in landfill and left to rot. You can put all your vegetable and fruit peelings, egg shells and even tea bags in your compost bin.
The compost that is gradually made from your natural food waste can then be used for adding nutrients to plants and general gardening. Even if your not much of a gardener, I'm sure they'll be a neighbour near by that would hugely appreciate it...ad so will the planet!
Even if you don't have a garden or if it's not particularly large, small compost bins are available so can be perfect for maintaining small indoor and outdoor plants.
24 million slices of bread are thrown away in the UK every single day!
3. Go to the Green Grocers
Not only would you be supporting your local businesses, but choosing to buy from a green grocers usually means you only buy what you need.
When you go to the supermarket, it's easy to fall into the trap of buying the three courgettes that are wrapped in plastic when you only actually need one. A green grocers gives you the opportunity to reduce plastic and reduce the risk of throwing away food and therefore money.
4. Freeze ingredients and leftovers
Your freezer should be your best friend when it comes to reducing food waste. If you're cooking a pasta sauce and you've bought 6 tomatoes but only used 4, make extra and freeze the sauce for a day you don't fancy cooking.
If something is about to go out of date, cook with it and then freeze it for another day. If you have bought fresh herbs and they're starting to go off, freeze them. The possibilities are endless! It takes planning but it can save you a lot of money.
5. Make sure you fridge is at the right temperature
If your fridge is not set at the right temperature you could be risking all your fresh food prematurely going out of date. It genuinely has the power to keep your food fresher for longer, as cliche as that sounds.
According to Taste of Home, the correct temperature for your fridge is at or below 4° C, and your freezer temperature should be -18° C.
Businesses that can Help you Reduce Food Waste
Check out some of these amazing businesses that are all trying to combat food waste!
Rubies in the Rubble - condiments using vegetables that can't be sold in supermarkets and therefore at risk of being thrown.
Olio - A community app that allows you to collect or give away unwanted food.
Too good to go - The best app ever! Find local restaurants that are selling leftover meals for ridiculously cheap prices, think Yo Sushi for £3.50!
Food Cycle - An amazing movement for people who want to cook meals with wasted food and eat with their community.
The Pig Idea - An amazing idea and movement. Why not use pigs to solve our food waste problem?
Toast Ale - Delicious ales made out of wasted bread.
You can find out more about how to reduce food waste by visiting Love Food, Hate Waste.