After it was reported that almost 900,000 fresh meals are binned by UK restaurants and cafes every day, blogger and author of Sustainable Home Christine Liu shares her tips for how to cut down food waste at home.
Every year, one third of the world’s food is wasted – amounting to 1.3 billion tonnes of produce at a value of US$400 billion. This isn’t just physical waste, it also leaves an impact of 3.3 billion tonnes of CO2 emissions, 250 cubic kilometers of water (three times the size of Lake Geneva in Switzerland), and 1.4 billion hectares of land that was used inefficiently.
Considering the modern technological advances our society has gone through, it’s surprising that we haven’t yet found a way of being smart and efficient about our food production. While governments and activist groups around the world are actively looking for food waste solutions, here are several easy swaps we can all make as individuals to cut down on household food waste.
1. Shop smarter:
It sounds simple, but a really easy change to make is to shop your kitchen before heading over to the grocery store. Families in the UK and US waste approximately US$1,500 in food per year, which could easily be avoided if we took better inventory of things that were about to expire or spoil. Before you hit the shops, take stock of your existing supplies and keep in mind how much you are buying – only shop for what you need.
Families in the UK and US waste approximately US$1,500 in food per year
2. Love your Leftovers:
Prioritize eating leftovers before they go off and look out for fresher items that are likely to spoil first. Keep in mind that the term ‘best before’ means that the food is still ok to eat after that date, but just may not taste as good. If you find yourself with an abundance of leftovers, get your friends over for an impromptu dinner party! (For ideas for recipes to make with your leftovers, check out Love Food Hate Waste)
3. Store Food Properly:
Keep foods sealed in containers to avoid excess bacteria or oxygen from spoiling food. Another tip is to avoid storing fruits and vegetables together as fruits make vegetables ripen faster, and use reusable cotton mesh bags or towels to help wick moisture and keep produce dry (excess moisture will cause mold growth in foods).
4. Pickle It:
Pickling fresh vegetables that are about to go off is a great way to prevent throwing them out – and makes a great snack that will keep for days or even weeks. It’s also much easier than you might think, using a mixture of sugar, vinegar and water and a glass jar.
5. Try Composting:
For all the excess food waste that didn’t manage to get cooked or eaten in time, consider composting. There are various methods of composting such as vermicomposting (with worms), back garden composting (simple hole-in-the-ground), bin composting, and more. If your local municipality has industrial composting available for residents, make sure you learn the system to drop off what is compostable and not, and be an advocate for local residents to sort their food waste, recyclables, and trash properly.
Best of luck on your sustainability journey, and hope these tips were helpful for you to combat food waste in your home!
Read Christine Liu’s story of sustainability in Life as I know it.
For more practical tips on creating a more environmentally friendly household, Christine Liu’s book Sustainable Home (published by White Lion publishing at £18.00) is available now. Also stay tuned for helpful posts on her blog Snapshots of Simplicity.
For further reading, see Melissa Hemsley’s guide to getting started with bulk buying.