Food waste is something all of us face on a daily basis. Hectic schedules can make it hard to avoid but it’s so worth the effort, as it can save you approximately €700 a year. In this article I give you simple, easy, zero-cost solutions to help you slash that brown bin bill!
Nothing mentioned in this article has been sponsored. It’s all just my own personal opinion. If you like your sources to remain independent then please;
share this article, or
buy me a coffee on Ko-fi, or
make a one-time donation via Paypal
When we put spoiled food in the bin we don’t just waste the food and our money.
We waste all of the energy, water and resources that went into planting, growing, harvesting, processing, packing and transporting that food.
Each of these steps emits greenhouse gases, contributing to our climate crisis, which is fine if we’re eating it but sinful if we’re not.
Food waste doesn’t just affect our carbon footprint, it also impacts biodiversity. A recent study in the US estimate that there would be a 17% increase in biodiversity if food waste was halved.
Startling Facts about Food Waste
Here are some really interesting stats on food waste to help you get a handle on the scale of the issue
- The food waste produced in Ireland annually would fill Croke Park two and a half times!
- One-third of all municipal waste is food, with this generating the equivalent carbon emissions of one million cars
- An area larger than China is used to grow food that is never eaten.
- Globally 1/4 to 1/3 of all the food created goes to waste, more than twice the amount required to feed the world’s starving.
- Global food waste generates around three times the global emissions created by the aviation industry
- If food waste were a country it would be the 3rd largest emitter of greenhouse gases (after China & the USA).
Easy Tips for Reducing Food Waste
On a more practical level here are some things we’ve done as a family to reduce our food waste at home;
- Buying unpackaged fruit and veg. We find doing this allows us to buy only what we need
- Limiting the food miles of the fruit and veg you buy. We’ve found that the fresher the food the longer it lasts in your fridge / fruit bowl.
- Buying fruit and veg that’s in season. Another factor that seems to help fuit and veg last longer.
- Removing fruit and veg from any plastic packaging before storing. Otherwise we find it sweats and rots quicker.
- Not washing fruit and veg until just before you need it, as doing so speeds up decomposition
- Using frozen veg to supplement your fresh veg supply. This helps us cope with erratic schedules and avoids putting forgotten veg in the bin.
- Storing food in the right place, such as
- Keeping bananas away from other fruit, because they give off ethanol which speeds up decomposition, and
- Storing potatoes in a dark, dry place. We keep ours in a brown paper bag on the kitchen floor.
- Storing cheese in the fridge wrapped in kitchen paper inside an airtight container, changing the kitchen paper when it gets too damp.
- Storing mushrooms in the fridge in a bowl, covered with a tea-towel
- Only keeping condiments on the door fridge, as this is the warmest part of the fridge and not appropriate for shorter-life foods.
- Freezing fresh herbs and using as required
- Having a designated area in the fridge and cupboard for food that needs to be used up first.
- Not overstocking our fridge, as it makes it impossible to find things and makes the fridge work less effectively.
- Limiting snacking so that people are hungry at dinner time
- Control portion size at meal times to limit waste, although we do allow seconds if people are hungry. It’s not about restricting food, just be measured about what’s initially offered.
- Freezing left overs
- Freezing portions of food, i.e. 1 can of bean frozen as single servings in jars, which allows us to use as needed.
- Keeping bread and lunch meat frozen and assembling them, frozen, for lunches. We’ve found that they both defrost slowly over the day keeping the sandwich fresh. It also means that the bread and lunch meat is kept in suspended animation until required and so avoids waste.
- Streamline recipes to use as few ingredients as possible because we’ve found the fewer the ingredients the less potential for waste. Also using the same ingredients across a few dishes gives you more opportunity to use up leftover fruit and veg.
- Cultivating the habit of using up leftover ingredients by searching for recipe by ingredients on bbcgoodfood.com. You can also google what to do with leftover ingredients. I found out you can make your own vermouth from left over wine. Although in all fairness, who has leftover wine?
- Making soup with veg that’s past it’s best
- Making smoothies with fruit that’s past it’s best.
For more tips on how to reduce food waste visit the government website Stop Food Waste