Did you know that UK households waste 4.5 million tonnes of food each year? Add that to the 3.6 million tonnes wasted by the food industry and you can clearly see why Food Waste Action Week is an important week to review our food-related habits.
During lockdown in 2020, households learned to get better at preventing waste. Concerns about going to the shops and running out of food initially motivated people to waste less. Pre-shop planning, smart storage and creative cooking all contributed to the decrease in UK household food waste.
It’s an uncomfortable truth. The more lockdown measures were eased, the more food waste there was in UK households.
How to Reduce Food Waste
- Store Food Properly – wrap up open packets and use reusable storage boxes to keep food fresher for longer
- Keep your fridge and cupboards organised – rotate food when you shop, so newly-bought foods are placed behind items needed to be used first
- Write a shopping list and stick to it – it’s easy to be swayed by offers, but stick to your list to reduce waste and save money. If you’re not a fan of shopping lists, take a picture of your fridge/cupboard shelves before you head to the shops instead. This will stop you from buying something you’ve already got at home.
- Buy local and loose – stay away from pre-packed bags and packets and choose the amount you need. Don’t forget your reusable fruit and veg bags!
- Assess best before dates – food doesn’t “go off” magically at midnight on the best before dates. Be sure to check dates so you can freeze things that might not last.
- Get creative with leftovers – we’ve made crumble toppings with crumbs from flapjacks and the dust at the bottom of cereal bags. You can also use peels for stocks, and any leftover meats and/or vegetables for pies or soups.
- Freeze your fresh herbs – you can defrost and discard the water; a small amount of water shouldn’t ruin most recipes.
- Perfect your portions – Hands up who has ever found themselves with far too much rice or pasta? It’s easy to do, but there are simple ways to cook the perfect amount. For example, a mug filled with dry rice will cook enough for four adults.
- Before you freeze your leftovers – label the bag/container telling you what’s inside and when you froze it.
Environmental Effects of Food Waste
Did you know that global food waste produces more greenhouse gas emissions than all commercial flights?
Globally, around a third of all food produced is lost or wasted, which contributes between 8 and 10 per cent of total greenhouse gas emissions.
It isn’t just the leftovers on our plate to consider but the many resources that go into producing our food, like water, land, energy, time, and transportation, so it’s really important that we don’t unnecessarily waste it.
- Almost 280 tonnes of poultry goes to waste in the UK every day. If we stopped wasting poultry, we could do the same for climate change as planting nearly 6.6 million trees every year.
- We throw away the equivalent of 3.1 million glasses of milk every day. If we used every drop, we could do the same for climate change as planting nearly 6 million trees per year.
- Every day 4.4 million potatoes go to waste in UK homes. If we all stopped wasting these potatoes it would do the same for greenhouse gas emissions as planting 5.4 million trees per year.
- 20 million slices of bread are thrown away at home in the UK every day. If we stopped wasting bread, it would do the same for greenhouse gas emissions as planting 5.3 million trees per year.
Food Waste Recipes
There are hundreds of recipes out there dedicated to using up food waste, such as using stale bread to create croutons, or making crisps out of potato peelings.
It became a household staple in 2020, but using up your soft bananas to make banana bread is still a super yummy idea. Yesterday my daughter did a LIVE cookalong on Zoom, making the perfect banana bread
Find the FULL recipe and method in the Eco Home Facebook Group!