Food waste – What Is Going Into Your Bin?

Food waste and hunger is a global issue but it is very much on our own doorstep too, as here in the UK food waste and hunger is a nationwide problem. According to FareShare 1.9 million tons of food is wasted by the food industry, including those involved in growing, harvesting, manufacturing and selling the produce. 250,000 tons of this food is perfectly edible and yet there are an estimated 8.4 million people in the UK alone that are struggling to afford to eat. A large percentage of that figure experience actual hunger.

The food wasted in Europe and the USA alone could feed the world 3 times over! Yet around the world people are living and dying of hunger; approximately 1 billion people are hungry and every second one person dies of hunger. How can this make sense?

I could write a whole blog just about the various data; however, I want to encourage action and try to help individuals to be more thoughtful about the waste they produce. This blog is about food waste, but I am hoping it will also encourage you to think about waste in other areas of your life also.

It is not just the food industry wasting food but households too. If I was to ask you to put £70 cash in the bin right now, would you?

I can tell you the answer; it would be a resounding NO. You would think I was completely off my rocker! Out of my mind!

The average family of four is wasting around £70 worth of food per month. As a nation, it amounts to 12.5 billion tonnes a year. A big portion of what goes in our bins is actually edible!

If you are throwing YOUR money into the bin, would you not want to address it? A family of four could possibly save £840 a year by reducing their food waste.

Around 20% of the UK’s C02 emissions come from food and drink waste and this effects global warming. The other impact is wasted costs; this is because all the food that is wasted has cost money to produce, harvest, manufacture, pack, store and transport. It has also used valuable resources such as land, water, labour and fuel. This affects the global economy and the price you ultimately pay because many of these costs are passed on to the consumer.

Not to mention the carbon footprint in the transportation of food. Do you know that your supermarket runner beans probably come from Kenya, bananas from Columbia, grapes from Brazil, avocado from Israel and your tomatoes from Morocco?

My Top Tips on how to reduce your waste at home:

  1. Planning and shopping
  • Plan your meals, build your shopping list based on what you need and stick to the items on it – avoid multi packs and BOGOF if you are not going to use all of it.
  • Check cupboards, fridge and freezer before making purchases so you do not buy what you already need to use up.
  • Buy British, buy local and buy in season if possible to reduce the carbon footprint. If food is fresher and you can trust where it has come from, you not only help the planet but you are also likely to waste less and only buy the amount you actually need. You also boost your community’s economy and help small independent businesses.
  • Buy and demand foods that would normally be rejected e.g. wonky veg and imperfect fruit as this prevents waste.
  1. Storing
  • Arrange foods in your cupboards, fridge, and freezer so the oldest foods/what needs using first are at the front/on top. Store food correctly and keep an eye on your fridge and freezer temperature.
  • Labels – when opening things label them, so you do not throw away things that are still safe to use because you cannot remember when you opened them. Date things you freeze and leftovers too as this also eliminates the guesswork!
  • Get familiar with use by and best before dates, BUT trust your nose and other senses too, as they are a great indicator that something has gone bad. Remember best before does not mean it is not edible!
  1. Cooking and Serving
  • Only cook enough for that meal unless batch cooking meals for another day. Do not overfill plates, portion food correctly so food is not wasted.
  • Use every single edible piece of food. Sometimes we throw away perfectly edible parts of fruit and vegetables as part of our preparation.
  • Use things that need using up – can they be added to the dish you are preparing, could you make tomorrows breakfast, a cake, dessert or snack with the fruit or even the veg?
  • Love leftovers – put leftovers in the fridge and use the next day. Soup is a good way to use up leftovers. If you cannot use up the leftovers the next day freeze them.
  • Compost all your food waste
  1. Preserve foods
  • If you cannot use fruit and vegetables before they start to turn, freeze them. The frozen items can then be used in smoothies, soups, stews, casseroles or as purees and sauces.
  • Things such as milk can be frozen and if you have too much cheese grate and freeze this too. Milk may separate when frozen but a good shake will get it right again.
  • Bread is good frozen and by freezing and taking out only what you need each day you can save waste. If not already sliced, slice the loaf and place in a suitable container to freeze. You can portion out daily amounts before freezing too.
  • Make fermented foods with fruit and vegetables that are going to be wasted; this is popular now. Label them well.
  • Make pickles and preserves to use up items you have too much of or are not going to use in time. This way you can keep them longer! Label them well, including the date it was made.
  1. Do your bit
  • Grow your own. If you have space, grow some of your own food. You can grow in pots, bags and even on window ledges. Get the kids involved. Get an allotment or join a community scheme.
  • Donate food that you may not get around to using to food banks, neighbours, shelters etc

Further reading


Read more of Sandra’s incredible writing on her blog:

Lilia Vitality – Naturally Changing

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