I’ve been thinking about how much food we waste recently. I’m staggered to discover that, here in the UK, 10 million tonnes of food will end up uneaten every year and that around 60% of this could be avoided.
Tearfund’s Renew Our Food action invites supporters to ask their supermarkets to do more to tackle this huge problem, as well as consider how we can reduce the waste from our own homes too.
Three in five of us think that we don’t waste food, but studies show that each month UK consumers throw out 48 million loaves - enough bread to fill St Paul’s Cathedral to the brim- and other perfectly edible food too, which costs the average household £470 per year.
There’s also a hidden cost beyond our pockets. Producing food and then throwing it away uneaten has a huge environmental impact. It releases millions of tonnes of greenhouse gas into the atmosphere, both through the resources used to produce and the emissions released as it rots. This is how food waste is fuelling climate change, making life harder for the world’s poorest people and limiting their ability to feed themselves.
Jesus shows us another way. We read in John 6 how he generously feeds the five thousand, but an often forgotten part of that story is when he says ‘Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.’ (John 6:12)
So with that in mind, here are my top 10 tips to cut down on the amount of food we waste at home…
1. Plan your meals
- Make a big batch to provide you with meals for a few days.
- If you know you’ll use your milk within a couple of days, why not buy one with a closer date to avoid the supermarket throwing it away?
- Think of ways you can create a meal or a snack out of the ingredients in your cupboard and give it away.
- Only cook what you need to minimise waste
- Try out different recipes and using leftovers to replace ingredients you don’t have to hand.
- If you think you won’t be able to eat something before its use by or best before date, then put it in the freezer
- Soup is an easy way to use up leftovers and it can be frozen too
- Getting a better understanding of what you don’t manage to use will help you shop better. Could you try and keep any edible food out of your landfill bin?
2. Organise your food cupboards so food doesn’t get lost or forgotten
- Make sure you often check your cupboards and arrange it by use before dates
3. Create a shopping list and only buy what you need. AVOID THOSE SPECIAL OFFERS!
- Ask yourself what you need, when will you eat it?
4. Don’t automatically pick fresh food with the furthest away date
5. Use leftovers generously
6. Measure your portions
7. Be creative
8. Use your freezer
9. Make soup
10. Start monitoring what you throw away
Find more information on food waste and tips on the Tearfund website here.
By doing your bit, it helps supermarkets know you are taking this issue seriously and we can call on them to do the same. Visit www.tearfund.org/foodwaste to let us know you’re reducing your waste, and ask your supermarket to halve their food waste too.
Dr Ruth Valerio is Global Advocacy and Influencing Director at international development charity Tearfund.