Food waste is not only bad for your pocket, but it has serious negative effects on the environment. When we waste food, we also end up wasting resources, energy and carbon emissions that contributed to producing, transporting, processing and cooking the food.
If food waste ends up in landfill, it can create even more harmful emissions as methane gas is released, which can be much more damaging to the environment than carbon dioxide. Alternatively, food waste can be used as an energy resource, for fertiliser and even fuel, but not if it ends up in landfill.
Global food waste
Food waste significantly contributes to climate change and if it was measured as a country, food waste would come in as the third largest global emitter of greenhouse gases.
With food on half price deals and buy one get one free, it can be easy to think of it as disposable. However, there are nearly 1 billion hungry people in the world, and they could all be fed on less than a quarter of the food that is wasted in the UK, US and Europe.
Food waste also has an impact on economy with the cost of global food waste sitting at around $1 trillion. In a UK household, food waste is thought to be £700 per year, equating to £14 billion as a nation per year.
How to limit food waste
Most people end up buying more than they need when they go shopping because bulk buying can feel convenient at the time and the offers can be hard to avoid! However, this method can lead to more food waste.
To avoid this, go food shopping every few days, rather than doing a shop once per week. This helps you to use up all of the food you purchased before going out to buy more.
Shopping with a list is also a good way you buy only what you need and limit impulse buying as this can also lead to excess food waste.
The improper storage of food is a massive cause of food waste. Storing foods such as fruits and vegetables incorrectly can lead to premature ripening, speeding up the rotting process.
Foods such as tomatoes, potatoes, garlic, onions and cucumbers should not be stored in the fridge and rather kept at room temperature to prevent premature ripening. A top tip is to try to remember where the food is stored in the supermarket – if in the fridge, keep chilled!
Although lots of people save their leftover food, it is often put in the fridge and forgotten about, later disposed of when it goes bad. Storing your leftovers in clear containers can be a way to help remind you that the food is there; we recommend reusable containers to be kinder on the environment!
Freezing your food can also be a good way to preserve food for longer. Depending on the food, it can be defrosted and eaten when it fits your schedule.
If it is out of sight, then it is probably out of mind. By making sure your fridge and pantry is more organised in a way that makes all of the food visible, you will be able to use more of the food before it goes out of date.
Another way to avoid food wastage is to use the method of ‘first in, first out’. When you buy new food products, place them behind the older foods, making sure the older food gets used first and not wasted.