The excessive and shocking amounts of food discarded each day across the globe, especially in richer countries, continues to be a very real problem, causing social, economical, and environmental issues as a result. According to the European Commission, in the EU alone, around 88 million tonnes of food waste are generated each year, a shocking figure which urgently needs addressing. To make a start in reducing food waste we all need to play a role, and although it can seem daunting, here are a few suggestions of how to go about it. A bit of food for thought on how we can start to tackle the problem.
1. Control your purchases
In the commonly used phrase ‘reduce, reuse, recycle’, there is a reason that reduce comes first. Minimising how much we buy and not buying excessively is first and foremost the best option for the environment. When you’re doing your food shop, keep in mind what meals you plan to make in the next few days or what foods you’d like to eat, and try to buy accordingly. Buying smaller amounts of food more regularly means you not only produce less waste, but can also enjoy fresher ingredients, and economically speaking this of course means you spend less money on food that never even gets eaten, so it’s really a win win. You can also find ‘anti-waste’ deals in some supermarkets nowadays, with fruit, vegetables and other products available for a bargain price, ideal for saving money and helping to combat food waste through your food shop.
2. Make the food last
Careful use of your freezer can be extremely useful in preserving your food in the most efficient way, especially if you live alone or in a couple and can struggle to get through certain foods before they go off. For example, keeping sliced bread in the freezer avoids it getting dry before you have the chance to finish it, and you can simply defrost how much you want each day. Cooking up any foods that are about to go off into a freezer-friendly meal is also a great idea, and the perfect option for a quick lunch to take to work, or a pre-made meal on a day where you don’t have much food in the house. Maybe you’re about to head off on holiday and want to avoid a mouldy fridge on your return? Think twice before throwing the contents of your fridge away. Many foods can be frozen, so try to do that rather than chuck everything, plus you’ll have some food stored away ready for your return!
3. Be selective when eating out
It’s not just at home that you should consider your food waste. Many restaurants are responsible for massive amounts of waste each day, so try to pick establishments that are actively minimising their food waste. This can be easy thanks to schemes like the one by Edenred and start-up Framheim, which recognises restaurants committed to combatting food waste. In October 2018, after consulting more than thousands of eateries, the scheme selected 100 restaurants with the most advanced initiatives and awarded them with the designation. Eating at any of these restaurants means you can be sure you are supporting socially committed restaurant owners who take the issue of food waste seriously and are making a difference, just like you. The scheme also supports the establishments throughout the year with regular feedback and advice on best practices, helping them to develop and improve their processes.
4. Reduce your consumption of packaged foods
It’s not just the organic waste that contributes to the exsessive and destructive amounts of food waste, the packaging plays an important role too. Try to choose products which come in no packaging, or more ecological packaging which can be reused or recycled. Avoid plastic and opt for cardboard or ideally zero waste, where you can simply take your own bags and refill with the items you want. When it comes to keeping food fresh in the fridge, you can also purchase more sustainable options such as beeswax wrap, rather than cling film of aluminium foil, to help keep your food fresh without contributing to yet more waste.
5. Make the most of the vouchers out there
As is often the case nowadays, there are some great technical advances out there to help combat food waste. There are apps such as Happy Hours Market or Too Good to Go which enable you to buy food which is consumable but no longer sellable at the supermarket, so you can purchase it at a bargain price and help to stop it being thrown out. You can also get involved with schemes like the Ticket EcoCheque vouchers, created in 2009 in Belgium, which promote products and services that respect the environment. This way you can ensure your purchases are responsible and be happy that you are contributing to a food system which is considerate of the planet and its people. By doing your best to follow these 5 tips, you can greatly reduce your food waste production, and help tackle this global issue. By starting small and making changes in your own home, your eating out habits and your purchasing habits, you can be part of an important movement which can really help make a difference, and urgently needs to.