How to reduce food waste?
Did you know that every year, 1.6 billion tonnes of food goes to waste globally? This figure includes both post-consumer waste (what we discard from our fridges and pantries) and waste from larger-scale industry supply chains.
As you might expect, food waste has a detrimental impact on the environment – and it's only getting worse. Essentially, as global wealth expands with industrialisation, consumers are demanding more food, food that's also more diverse, and often food not home grown - this leads to more loss and waste.
Food waste increases your carbon footprint
This first point is often overlooked, but when food is discarded, the resources used to create that food are also discarded (water, electricity, cattle feed and more). When you consider that it takes nearly 17,000 litres of water to produce 1kg of chocolate, it's easy to see how these underlying resources (and footprint) quickly stack up.
The food waste itself also contributes to our global emission footprint. When it's put into landfill, as most of our wasted food is, it's layered with other waste meaning it doesn’t have the optimum conditions to correctly decompose - mainly because it lacks adequate oxygen. This means, instead of decomposing normally, as it would if composted, the food sits around for much longer producing methane which slowly leaks into the atmosphere.
Methane is a greenhouse gas that’s often forgotten about, but it has an 80 times bigger warming impact than CO2 in the short term (over the next 20 years)!
How can you personally produce less food waste?
Take some of these simple steps to start reducing the amount of food you discard:
1. Plan your meals and make a shopping list
When shopping, avoid the temptation to impulse buy – plan your meals accordingly and create a shopping list.
This will make the weekly shop much quicker, cheaper and far more sustainable, meaning you'll be less likely to have excess food that in turn goes to waste.
2. Regrow produce in water
Some of your produce, mainly greens such as lettuce, cabbage and leeks can easily be re-grown in water, meaning you get more food from a single purchase.
You’ll need the stem or bottom of the vegetable to regrow it. Simply submerge it in a glass of water, put it on the windowsill, and it will start to grow back. Herbs such as basil can also be regrown from the sprig.
3. Learn to compost
What to do about your veggie scraps, peels or seeds? Start learning to compost.
You no longer need a garden for this – there are now compact solutions such as worm and bokashi bins that are perfectly compatible with living in the smallest of spaces.
4. Buy ‘wonky veg’ and other imperfect produce
So much produce is discarded because of its shape or size! Thankfully, supermarkets and local sellers are starting to offer imperfect produce at a discounted price.
What a great way to save the planet and the pocket.
5. Use fruit scraps to make vinegarAlmost any fruit can be used to create homemade vinegar! From apples to more exotic fruit. All you need to make your own vinegar from fruit scraps is some sugar, water, and a mason jar. Homemade vinegar is great for stubborn cleaning jobs around the house.
It’s a wonderful way to make use of what would otherwise go straight to the bin!