Most people don't realize how much food they throw away every day — from uneaten leftovers to spoiled produce. About 95 percent of the food we throw away ends up in landfills or combustion facilities. Home composting is a great way to stop this sort of waste ending up in landfill, and our gardens will really thank us for it. If you live in an area that has a local food waste recycling collection service, you can use this to dispose of anything you can't eat, or compost at home. It can be recycled into a good quality soil improver or fertilizer and even generate electricity that can be fed back into the national grid.
The amount of food we throw away is a waste of resources. Just think about all the energy, water and packaging used in food production, transportation and storage. This all goes to waste when we throw away perfectly good food. Cheese is a good example – feeding and milking the cows, cooling and transporting the milk, processing it in to cheese, packing it, getting it to the shops, keeping it at the right temperature all the time. If it then gets thrown away it will most likely end up in a landfill site, where, rather than harmlessly decomposing as many people think, it rots and actually releases methane, a powerful greenhouse gas.
Benefits of reducing wasted food:
1. A food waste caddy in your kitchen can help you to separate out your food waste for recycling and composting. This can be emptied into your compost bin or council food waste bins every couple of days.
2. Save money from buying less food.
3. Reduces methane emissions from landfills and lowers your carbon footprint.
4. Conserves energy and resources, preventing pollution involved in the growing, manufacturing, transporting, and selling food (not to mention hauling the food waste and then land filling it).
5. Supports your community by providing donated untouched food that would have otherwise gone to waste to those who might not have a steady food supply.
Avoid food wastage by these tips:
1. Make your shopping list based on how many meals you’ll eat at home. Will you eat out this week? How often?
2. Plan your meals for the week before you go shopping and buy only the things needed for those meals.
3. Find out how to store fruits and vegetables so they stay fresh longer inside or outside your refrigerator.
4. If you like to eat fruit at room temperature, but it should be stored in the refrigerator for maximum freshness, take what you’ll eat for the day out of the refrigerator in the morning.
5. When you get home from the store, take the time to wash, dry, chop, dice, slice, and place your fresh food items in clear storage containers for snacks and easy cooking.
6. Cut your time in the kitchen by preparing and freezing meals ahead of time.
7. Be mindful of old ingredients and leftovers you need to use up. You’ll waste less and may even find a new favorite dish.
8. Shop in your refrigerator first! Cook or eat what you already have at home before buying more.
9. Learn the difference between “sell-by,” “use-by,” “best-by,” and expiration dates.
10. Casseroles, stir-fries, frittatas, soups, and smoothies are great ways to use leftovers.
11. At restaurants, order only what you can finish by asking about portion sizes and be aware of side dishes included with entrees. Take home the leftovers and keep them for or to make your next meal.
By making small shifts in how you shop for, prepare, and store food, you can save time and money, and keep the valuable resources used to produce and distribute food from going to waste!