Stop Food Waste Day was created to raise awareness around the issues caused by wasting food around the globe, and this year it falls on 27 April. From greenhouse gas emissions to poverty and climate change, wasting food can cause significant issues that most people don’t think of.
Stop Food Waste Day was first introduced in the US in 2017 before being made an international event in 2018 with the goal of halving food waste internationally by 2030. To help you play your part, read on for five easy tips to reduce food waste in your home.
1. Plan meals so you only buy as much as you need
By planning your meals in advance, you can ensure that you only buy what you need for the days ahead. It saves you the trouble of deciding whether you might want a product or not and will prevent you buying things that go out of date before you use them.
Plus, to avoid leftover vegetables, you could plan multiple meals that use similar ingredients, meaning you can use a full packet over the course of the week. This saves you trying to add in these vegetables into a meal that doesn’t need them later or throwing them away entirely.
2. Switch to longer life products where possible
The nature of fresh produce means that things like vegetables and milk can go out of date very quickly. Thankfully, supermarkets now have many more options when it comes to “long-lasting” or “longer life” produce, like different milks and canned vegetables.
Long-lasting or canned alternatives often taste very similar to their fresh alternatives, and typically do not need to be refrigerated in order to stay fresh. This can save space in your fridge for other fresh produce to keep longer.
3. Know the difference between “use by” and “best before” dates
One of the biggest misunderstandings in consumer goods is that the date printed on the packaging is the last possibly opportunity to use the product. This is simply not true, as many of these dates are labelled as “best before”, not “use by”.
Products with a use by date indicate the point at which a product may no longer be safe to eat, and should not be frozen, cooked, or eaten once this date has passed. However, a best before date indicates when the item will be at its peak in terms of quality and does not mean the product is unsafe to eat afterwards.
Many people misinterpret the best before date on certain products as a use by date and throw it away as soon as the date has been breached. This means that perfectly good food is being wasted because you think it has gone bad, but in fact, it might mean the quality is just slightly lower than usual.
Before throwing away any unused food items, double-check to see if they are actually unusable and if you could still use them in other dishes, like a curry.
4. Have a separate food waste bin in the kitchen
One of the problems with food waste isn’t that the food is being thrown away, but that it’s being dumped in a landfill with other rubbish. Food waste in a landfill can actually be more harmful than the other rubbish that is dumped there due to the release of harmful gases into the atmosphere.
Separating your food waste beforehand and disposing of it in a food waste bin will minimise the environmental impact of throwing it away. Some councils provide brown food waste bins automatically, while others may be able to provide one on request.
5. Create your own compost in the garden
If your council does not provide the option for a food waste bin, then you may wish to create your own compost in the garden. Adding food waste to your own compost can help your garden grow more efficiently, as the finished compost will act as a sort of fertiliser.
If you grow your own flowers or vegetables, for example, composting should increase the workability and efficiency of your soil.
The process of composting works entirely through microorganisms in the soil which digest and break down food waste into organic nutrients. What you are left with is a fibre-rich and carbon-containing mixture which gives everything the plants in your garden need to thrive.
What that also means is that your food waste is not subjected to the harmful bacteria that is found in landfills from other, inorganic waste materials. Bacteria in landfills break down food waste into methane, a greenhouse gas multiple times worse than carbon dioxide in terms of pollution.