Food waste is one of those problems that no one really thinks about. Yeah, sometimes we forget that there’s cream in the fridge and it goes off so we have to chuck it, but, so what? A big deal actually. That’s what.
A report from the Natural Resources Defence Council has found that in the US, 40% of all food that is produced is subsequently wasted. Unfortunately, this figure is not much better in the UK, at around 33%. This happens at every stage; on the farm, during transportation, at the supermarket, and lastly but by no means least, in our homes.
There are loads of very important reasons for reducing our food waste; to reduce food going to landfill, reduce the impact on climate change, to save money, save resources, use surplus food to feed the poor, etcetera etcetera. As far as I can tell, the only downside to reducing food waste is that it requires effort to think of ways to go about it.
The good news is that I’ve already done some thinking, and there are some really easy steps for doing this, as I’ve listed below.
- Love your freezer – herbs, bread, meat, leftovers, they’re all fine for freezing, just make sure to attach a label, saying what it is and when you froze it (don’t let it get buried for years and enveloped with ice, else you’ll want to throw it out).
- Best before ≠ harmful after – use your eyes and nose to test whether items with a bb date are still okay (I once had a lettuce 1 month past its bb date and it tasted fine).
- Blend it up – make soups from old vegetables and smoothies from old fruits
- Organise your fridge – have a low shelf dedicated to foods that need using up (e.g. open pasta sauces), and a higher shelf for long lasting products (e.g. jams and chutneys). This way you’ll easily see what needs eating.
- Divert from landfill – compost if you can and donate unwanted items to food banks (everyone has some food tucked away in a cupboard that they’ll never eat).
- Make a list – every time food goes in the bin, note it down. Do this for a month and you’ll become aware of what you waste and learn what to stop buying (or at least buy in smaller quantities).
- Check seals – if the biscuits are going soft or the cereal is going stale, check the containers to ensure they’re airtight.
- Learn portions – if you regularly throw away rice or pasta because you made too much, then it’s time to get a scale (or mug) and learn the portion size for you.
- Love leftovers – never throw them away, have it the next day or incorporate it into a meal. Rumbledethumps anyone?
- BING it – just kidding, use Google. If you have a food item that needs using up, look to the web for recipes that include it. (There are even apps that do this now).
All in all, every step that is taken to reduce food waste is a step in the right direction. So why not take a look around your home to see what simple changes you can make today, or leave a comment below if you have any additional suggestions. As Tesco’s says, every little helps.
Related articles on this web site:
- Waste not, want not! by Tony Cowling