The holiday season marks a festive time where decorations go up, endless gatherings are abound, and food and drink consumption become a merry must. Unfortunately, this time of year is also when food waste is at its peak.
The UK alone produces the highest amounts of food waste in all of Europe. Household level food waste accounts for about 70 percent of the total food waste in the country, with 6.6 million tonnes of food waste going straight into landfills, subsequently increasing greenhouse gas emissions that threaten the ozone layer.
In addition to that, nearly 4 million tonnes of food is wasted by the food industry every year. About 80 percent of us contribute to this and while we can’t control the food industry’s waste, we can certainly find ways to reduce and control our own by simply monitoring and changing our daily actions. Not wasting food would have the same beneficial impact on the planet as taking 1 in 4 cars off of all UK roads.
This Christmas season, Kindred is listing ways in which we can all reduce our waste and consumption when it comes to food by incorporating the following 5 habits:
Avoid over-buying at food stores or groceries
This is the most simple yet obvious way to reduce food waste: buy only what you need for the week or month instead of over-buying. One third of all food produced in the UK ends up in landfills, so if you’re uncertain you’ll consume that banana or apple before it will go rotten, it’s best to avoid buying for the time being.
The top five foods that are commonly thrown away and wasted are: potatoes, bread, milk, bananas, and salad; the likely reasons being that they tend to go bad after a short amount of time. Tip: look for products with the furthest expiration date to give yourself a better chance of eating it before it expires.
Volunteer and support local food rescue organisations or charities
According to statistics listed on Fareshare (the UK’s longest running food distribution charity), about 8.4 million people in the UK struggle to afford to eat and over half of them live in food insecure homes.
Many depend on food charities and food banks in order to not go hungry.
Volunteering at food rescue organisations or charities like your local soup kitchen is vital as they rely heavily on both volunteers and donations to keep them running. It’s a kind and fulfilling thing to do, especially during this time of year, however if you’re unable to donate your time helping in person, you can always donate financially to support the needs of the organisation. One food charity that we recommend is Fareshare, an organisation that redistributes surplus food to other charities that then transform them into meals. Donations and volunteers are always welcomed and needed; any extra food made and saved is a win for everyone
Donate any extra food or unused food from home
Often times, many of us have cereals or tins of food that are just lying around in our cupboard for months on end -- even years.
If you find yourself never using these itemsor don’t intend to use them, it would be a giving gesture to donate these goods to your local food bank or charity if they haven’t yet expired this winter.
A simple yet extremely effective way of preventing food waste is to donate any unused, extra, or unwanted foods to your local food banks, shelters, or charity organisations. Churches also accept food donations as well as schools.
This prevents food from being thrown unnecessarily into landfills and donating food also serves those in need such as the homeless or those who are food insecure; it is a great way to support your local community. Some food items that are accepted at most food banks are: cereal, soups, pasta, rice, tinned tomatoes, pasta sauce, lentils, tea, coffee, biscuits, UHT milk, fruit juice and tinned vegetables.
Make compost at home
This is a popular one, and for good reason too. The perfect solution to avoiding methane gases from being released into the atmosphere is to prevent food waste from going into landfills.
Using a single household compost bin diverts approximately 150kg of waste from landfills each year. You can compost any food waste from either cooking, unwanted leftovers, or unusable scraps by putting them into a compost bin and letting it decompose outside to create nutrient-rich fertiliser.
This enables your soil to not only be rich in nutrients but also be the perfect breeding ground to grow plants, flowers, and fruits or vegetables.
Instead of throwing your food in the bin, throw it in your compost bin as well as any other organic or biodegradable material, so that it can decompose naturally into the ground. Healthier soil grows healthier plants and food. Gardeningdata.co.uk offers useful and helpful tips to teach one how to properly compost food effectively.
Save every last scrap
A little bit of effort when it comes to saving food and reducing waste goes a long way.
You can easily get creative when saving food as well as saving your wallet and health through these helpful tips: freezing scraps of leftover/unwanted fruits or vegetables, making broth or stock, and getting to-go boxes.
Let’s say you have a banana that you no longer want to eat because it’s getting brown in colour, instead of throwing it away you can freeze it and use it later in a smoothie or in your cereal the next day. The same goes for vegetables or meat; when you freeze food it increases their shelf life so consider freezing any extra food that you have lying around.
Left over vegetable scraps, meats and even some grains can be used to make soup stock or broth—a little extra flavour makes the stew taste even better. Even with foods such as stale bread—you can get creative by making it into breadcrumbs for your next salad.
Last tip: when eating out at restaurants, instead of leaving your plate half full for the restaurant to just throw away into the bin later, always ask for a to-go box.
If you paid any amount of money to eat outside, make good use of it by finishing every bit of food you paid for, if not now then later at home. Less waste in the landfill, and less waste for your wallet.
Let us know what tips you use to reduce food waste this season in the comments below!