Waste Not Want Not

Food waste is one of my biggest pet peeves.  It’s right up there next to unnecessary plastic packaging!

Sad to say that only 2 years ago, as a family of four, we could easily fill 2 large council size rubbish bins in a week.   Since then, we’ve managed to cut the trash in half by re-thinking the weekly food shop and cutting down on packaged products.

We also started composting more actively and from that became acutely aware of our food waste.

I am now super conscientious when it comes to food and make every effort to use the entire ingredient be it a fruit, vegetable, whole chicken, etc.  Open my freezer and you’ll find lots of homemade compotes and stocks!!   We also eat leftovers (despite the occasional moan from my children about it unless it’s leftover cake!!).  And I have NO problem at all taking a doggy bag from a restaurant; I even started bringing my own containers to fill.

Why does this matter?   Well, here are some scary facts for you:

  • Over 50% of food produced globally goes uneaten!
  • In the UK, almost 15M Tonnes of food waste is generated with 40% going to landfill.
  • In the EU, 88M Tonnes of food is wasted, which is equivalent to 173kg per EU citizen.
  • In the US, there is 65M Tonnes of food waste with 35M Tonnes going to landfill.

Unfortunately, food cannot decompose properly when it’s squeezed between other materials.  Instead it produces methane, which is 21x more harmful than CO2.  It’s estimated that 11% of greenhouse gases that come from the food system could be reduced if we stop wasting food.

So with Thanksgiving on Thursday, and then moving into the festive season, what better time for all of us to start considering strategies to manage food waste.  Nobody wants to be eating exactly the same thing every day, but with a little creativity we can make some exciting leftovers… or at least find the necessary equipment to store food for later!

Practical Recommendations

Play the food waste game and write down weekly what each member of the family is wasting.  It gets everyone involved and helps create awareness.

Plan your meals accordingly and buy only what you need of fresh produce.  I love my Riverford box and have worked out the size that feeds my family perfectly for a week.

Use your freezer!!  If you find something is about to go off, prepare it and store it in the freezer.

Eat the WHOLE fruit and vegetable.  There is really no need for peeling or top n’ tailing.  If you simply prefer the taste or have picky little ones then save these bits and use to make a stock.

Start making curries and stews – this is a great way to use odd vegetables.

Compost.  Check if your local council organises compost collection.  If not, start your own or a worm farm (if you have little ones).  We have THIS next to the sink and then transfer it to the bigger compost bin that is collected weekly.

Jars, jars and jars!  Recycle condiment jars of all sizes and use as food storage.  Just remember, if you’re storing glass jars in the freezer make sure not to fill to the brim or the glass will break.

For more details and statistics, visit the resources below.