In this section we discuss some of the ways you can waste less and save more at home. Trying to avoid unnecessary food waste is a really good starting point. Reducing other types of waste such as plastic are also important, even though it is important to remember that packaging serves an important purpose by protecting products and helping them to last longer.
In the UK we throw away the equivalent of one out of five shopping bags worth of food that we buy and most of this food could have been eaten. Food waste also costs us money. Work by WRAP has shown that the average family in the UK could save up to £700 per year by reducing the amount of food they waste, that’s equivalent to £60 a month. Not only is throwing away this amount of food a waste of money for individual households, it is also a waste of the resources that have been used to prepare and transport this food and, as mentioned above, it is bad for the environment, too.
Although it can be difficult to know where to start, reducing food waste is simpler than you would think. Follow these five simple steps to see how much you could save:
1. Planning meals in advance can be a great way to ensure you buy only what you need. Regularly check what food you have in your cupboards, fridge and freezer and make a shopping list before going shopping.
2. Getting portion sizes right can reduce the amount of cooked food that you throw away. Work out your perfect portion and use weighing scales or a mug to help you measure.
3. If you do have leftover food, turn it into another meal. Soups, stews, omelettes and salads are all great dishes for using up leftover ingredients. To see recipes and tips from the north London community that can transform leftovers to something new visit www.wiseuptowaste.org.uk/wise-up-to-waste/waste-less/food-waste/recipes.
4. It is important to eat foods by the end of the ‘use by’ date, which is found on perishable foods that could make you ill if you eat them after this date. The ‘best before’ date refers to quality rather than food safety.
5. By storing food correctly and according to the guidance on the packaging, you can help it last longer. Lots of foods can be frozen, such as bread and milk or most fruit will last longer in the fridge, especially if kept in original packaging. To learn more about food waste reduction and start saving money, try signing up to North London Waste Authority’s Food Waste Challenge at www.wiseuptowaste.org.uk/challenge.
It is, of course, virtually impossible to reduce all food waste. Some foods like banana skin, fruit peel or meat or fish bones are considered unavoidable food waste. These can be recycled by using your local food waste collection service or by using a composting unit or wormery. Home composting not only reduces your environmental impact but also transforms your biodegradable waste into valuable nutrient-rich food for your garden.
If you do not have much space, a wormery can be a great alternative; worms eat the food waste, leaving a liquid fertilizer and a small amount of compost. Many local authorities sell composting units and wormeries at a subsidised price.
Contact your local council or visit www.wiseuptowaste.org.uk/composting for more information.