Food Waste: The Statistics and Tips to Reduce Food Waste at Home

”Whether the wastage is measured in tonnes of spoiled goods, hectares of agricultural land or household expenditure, the scale is frightening.” [The Guardian, 12/08/2015]

[Summary only: read full article here]

Kate LyonsGlenn Swann and Cath Levett recently wrote an article for The Guardian about global food-waste. The figures they came up with is quite shocking, especially considering the fact that we are so aware of poverty across the world and we, as generally affluent people, raise our hands (not to mention our voices) when it comes to caring for the hungry and the poor. In addition to this, we are becoming more and more aware of the impact our food consumption, as well as our irresponsible use of natural resources, have on the environment. More companies are trying to ‘’go green’’, and saving our world for the future generations have become paramount in many countries where even politicians are picking up on the trend and legislation now enforces ‘’green living’’.

It would seem that, despite all this awareness and the efforts of numerous global non-profits, we are still wasting food and resources. It is really astounding when you look at the many tonnes of food wasted per annum, food that could have been used to feed the hungry.

Did you know any of the following facts:

  • Every year we waste 1,3 billion tonnes of food; that is about a third of all food that is produced. This includes 45% of fruit and vegetables, 35% of fish and seafood, 30% of cereals, 20% of dairy products and 20% of meat.
  • In the UK, 15 million tonnes of food is lost or wasted each year and 4.2 million tonnes of edible food is thrown away by consumers.
  • Nearly 12 weeks’worth of groceries are thrown away each year by the average family.
  • 25,5% of every melon is thrown away.
  • 4% of all bread produced is thrown away.
  • 7% of all lettuce is thrown away.

[All statistics found in The Guardian article: ‘Produced but never eaten: A visual guide to food waste’ dated 12 August 2015]

You now may ask the question: How can we change these obviously destructive habits? I found a few interesting tips on epa.gov:

  • Take a look at the food in your refrigerator and/or grocery cupboard BEFORE you buy more
  • Plan your menu before you go shopping and buy ONLY the items needed to prepare the food on the menu.
  • Only buy enough food that you can realistically need and use. Buying bulk only saves money if you are able to use the food before it spoils.
  • Try to use as much of the edible parts of an item as possible, for example: make vegetable scraps into stock, sauté beet tops for a side dish. Stale bread can be used to make croutons for soup.
  • Freeze, preserve or can surplus fruits and vegetables
  • Compost food scraps rather than throwing it away.
  • Donate extra food to food banks to help those in need.

[Read the full article here.]

In addition to these tips, I would like to share a few of my own:

  • Vegetable skins can be cooked, mixed with beef stock or soup and fed to your pets, instead of buying expensive pet food.
  • Freeze left-overs and re-heat for a meal at another time.
  • Keep your rice, pasta, flour and other maize products in the refrigerator. It would last longer.
  • If you purchase large quantities of bread, freeze it. Defrost and use when needed; it still tastes wonderfully fresh.
  • Past due fruit like apples and bananas can be used to make pies and banana loaves, which can be frozen for later use.

Perhaps the most important tip I can give is that parents should teach their children to avoid food waste; teach them to properly close the lids on biscuit tins and cold drinks or to close the refrigerator door, so that food does not spoil. Most important, teach them to have respect for the food they are given, teach them to be thankful and not to throw good, nutritious food away, simply because they don’t like the taste. Our children need to learn that many have to do without, while they bin whatever they receive in abundance. After all, the campaigns focussing on the environment and on feeding the hungry  have the future of OUR KIDS in mind. By teaching them now, we can ensure a better, brighter future for all.

Launched in 2007 by WRAP, the ‘Love Food, Hate Waste’ campaign aims to reduce the UK’s growing food wastage.

Sources:

  1. Produced but never eaten: a visual guide to food waste | Environment | The Guardian
  2. Reducing Wasted Food Basics | United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

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