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Simple ways to reduce your food waste

Updated: Jan 16

Many of us are used to seeing a blemish on fruit or vegetables, then throwing it away or pushing food to back of the cupboard until it goes off!

Another scenario may be that you see the best before the date and think the item is ready to be thrown out.

Indeed, we are all guilty of doing these things; however, before you throw it out next time, think of an alternative solution.

Yes, the impact of food waste is terrifying, but the hard truth is we are only scratching the surface. 

Social injustice 

As we become more 'glocal' and aware of global social challenges, some of us may be exposed to the stories of individuals who struggle to provide food for themselves and their families, which leaves most of us feeling a sense of 'guilt' or 'sadness' with the awareness that others in the world may have fewer food options. Ultimately, it can feel slightly disingenuous to throw away food after hearing that others are struggling to eat everyday.

Environmental Impact

From food preparation to distribution; it's apparent that many processes and movements impact the environment. For instance:

Land: To produce food (meat, vegetables, and fruit) will require agricultural expansion to meet the demand for food, which can lead to deforestation and habitat destruction, destroying animal and insect homes. 

Water: Agriculture, a primary source of food production, accounts for a significant portion of global water usage. Wasted food also means wasted water resources.

Energy Consumption: Let's focus on moving food from the ground to your plate . It is proven that vast amounts of energy used in growing, harvesting, transporting, and processing food are lost when it's discarded. Energy consumption can include the release of greenhouse gasses, i.e. oil used to fuel machines and vehicles, which is a significant contributor to climate change. 

Leave the food waste problems to the big companies

Large companies are significant contributors to food waste and generally, it's up to policymakers and decision-makers to make changes within the industries to reduce food waste.. To speed up change we need to apply the pressure. Ways to create change include writing letters, organising petitions, protesting and writing to local councils. However, we still have a responsibility to make changes. Did you know a whopping 70% of household wasted food is edible, and 30% is inedible, proving it is equally important to change our habits and decisions too.

How to reduce your waste at home

Plan your meals

If you plan, you will avoid impulsive buying (especially buying food you know you will not have time to eat). The best solution is to create a weekly menu or a shopping list for your next shop so that you and your family avoid overbuying ensuring you use ingredients before they expire. Other planning benefits will help you save a few pennies by encouraging you to see what's already in your cupboards. Don't worry. We have all been there where we have bought ingredients, forgetting that they're already in your kitchen. But let's change that and become well prepared.

Buy the wonky fruit & veg

The next time you go shopping, don't dismiss or forget about the wonky stuff. For example, when you see 'wonky' or veg that looks 'ugly' pick it up and buy it.

Understand the labels:

Understand the distinction between "sell by," "use by," and "best by" dates. Often, food is still safe to eat after these dates have passed.

In addition, one way you can avoid throwing away food close to the best before date is by placing newer items at the back of the fridge or pantry and older items at the front to ensure you use them in a timely manner.

Better storage options:

Oxygen can cause food to spoil in many ways but it's essential to know that it encourages growth of microorganisms, resulting in mold and yeast growth. Oxidizing enzymes speed up chemical reactions in food, resulting in browning and foul odors. To slow down oxidizing and exposure to toxic matter we can buy better storage options such as: 

  • Buy glass and wooden top storage boxes 

  • Freezing in airtight containerrs 

  • Reuse plastic takeaway boxes. 

Use scraps creatively:

Instead of throwing, get creative and create something new:

Vegetable Broths: Collect vegetable scraps to make your own broth. This is a great way to extract additional value from items that might otherwise be discarded.

Pickling and Fermenting: Preserve fruits and vegetables by pickling or fermenting them which extends their shelf life.

Reinvent Meals: Transform leftovers into new dishes to make them more appealing. For example, use yesterday's roasted vegetables in a stir-fry or soup or blend bruised fruit into smoothies.

Other ways you can avoid throwing away your food

  • Use food apps such as Foodkeeper 

  • Add labels to your food packaging to remind you when you opened your food and the date you have to eat it .

  • Switch to smaller dishes to control portions. Did you know the standard meal size is 36 percent larger than it was 50 years ago.

And if you still don't know what to do with your leftovers......

Start composting, it's an eco-friendly way to dispose of food scraps and peels. It reduces the amount of waste sent to landfills.

Ideally, reducing your food waste to nothing is the best solution, but we are not perfect, so being proactive and implementing small changes is putting your foot in the right direction.

By just incorporating one of the above actions will help reduce energy, water and land waste.

Feeling motivated to reduce food waste and contribute to a more significant cause? If you enjoyed this article, share it with others or listen in to our podcast:

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