Household Food Waste is a big deal and most of us throw at least some food out each week which costs us a lot of money and negatively impacts the environment in numerous ways. Learn some simple actions to discover what your food waste is and simple ways to reduce and make the most of your food scraps.
(This post is part of the War on Waste Challenge Series)
Starting a war on food waste means discovering your biggest sources of food waste and simple ways to minimise it, like better planning, food storage, composting, or cooking with leftovers.
All food requires energy and resources to produce, whether it is fresh fruit or a processed item and each stage of production results in waste. At an individual level, there is little visibility into the production waste of foods we buy, but we can see our household waste quite easily and adopt habits that help fight waste where we shop.
Don't go crazy and aim for ZERO food waste though. Take simple steps that you feel are achievable and that make a difference in your household. You can pick just one food item, or a category of food waste, and as you gradually work through changing habits, you'll quickly see a reduction in food waste.
Why Food Waste Should Never Go To Landfill
Food seems like it should be perfectly fine in landfill, it's basically going into the ground which seems a natural end. Well, unfortunately when food does end up there, the way landfills are designed, it actually robs the food of oxygen meaning it creates the gas methane and this is a bad thing for planet earth.
The average household send a huge amount of food to landfill each year and can make up 30-40% of the trash you throw out each week. It is difficult to add up how much this might be costing you in wasted groceries, both financially as well as time and effort to shop, store and cook items that end up in the bin.
Despite many of us caring about it and dealing the weekly guilt trip when discovering regular food waste, it still happens way more than it should and there are many simple options to reduce it.
3 Main Categories of Food Waste:
1. Avoidable Food Waste
This is food that we could have eaten, but didn't, for whatever reason. Maybe it was forgotten leftovers, salad that went slimey, meat that went over the date before we noticed. If you're new to focussing on food waste, then this is the area you might want to start with. Personally, I always feel sad when I have food waste that could have been avoided and with some simple strategies, you can turn this around. The key to solving this is buying less, storing better and a little planning.
2. Potentially Avoidable Food Waste
This includes food and scraps that could have been used somehow, but perhaps we don't know how and have never seen recipes using it. For example, we might peel a few potatoes and discard the skins BUT baked potato skins can be really delicious. It's anything that is edible and potentially avoidable. People do throw out a lot of usable food waste and this can be solved by learning a few recipes, being creative, or just talking to your grandma about what they used scraps for.
3. Unavoidable Food Waste
This is the food we cannot eat and usually the smallest amount of food waste falls into this category. Woody stems and cores from apples, bones (after being used to their full potential), and inedible parts of foods we eat.
These are the items we need to try and dispose of mindfully, such as worm farms, compost or green waste bins.
What Food Are You Wasting The Most
To discover what foods, or categories of foods you are wasting the most in your household, you could do a bin audit (instructions here) or just think back over the past few weeks or months as to what foods you seem to throw out the most. A quick look in your waste bins or fridge right now can provide a great starting point.
Do You Even Have a Green Bin?
Some councils do offer green organics waste collections. This means all your food scraps can go into the same bin as garden waste and it is all taken to a commercial composting facility that can handle bones, shells, dairy, oil, tea bags and all kinds of items that might not work in a home composting system.
Call your local council or head to their website to see what they accept, and if they don't have a system in place get in touch and request one. The more people that ask, the more likely they will put something in place. It really does save so much from heading to landfill and turns it into a useful product. Council will often provide a compost caddy for your kitchen bench along with biobags.
If you do have this system available but aren't using it, this is a fabulous step to take. You'll find your trash bin will be cleaner without the food waste and you might even give up plastic bin liners in the process.
For those that don't have this available, it is still worth searching your local area to see if there is a drop-off or pick up service available to you for organic waste. The fees and arrangements will vary depending where you live.
Another alternative is to start talking to your neighbours and see if anyone has a composting system. You may be able to contribute particular types of food or items like coffee grounds to help them maintain their ideal balance.
Simple First Steps
If you don't have a lot of spare time to devote to fighting the food waste war in your home, here's a quick list of easy actions you could pick from to start with:
>Buy Less than what You think You Need
>Shop at bulk stores for items you only need a small amount of
>Plan your meals and shop your fridge and cupboard before heading to the supermarket
>Store leftovers in clear containers and label with a used by date
>Know how to make the most of your crisper drawer
>Freeze items you wont be able to eat in time
>Share extra food with family, friends or neighbours
>Understand the difference between Best before dates and used by dates
>Start composting at home
For more details on each of these items, head to this post.
Those Scraps Aren't Rubbish!
My entire family is so used to me saying "Don't throw that out, I might have a use for that!"
They really are very patient and some even store up and deliver their so called 'trash' to me.
This is not quite my approach to food scraps but I enjoy learning how to use them better and this is where you can really start to make a difference to your Potentially Avoidable Food Waste.
If you want some specific ways and actions you can take to start making the most of so called scraps, check out this post on Easy Ways To Use Food Scraps
There is so much to read out there on the topic of food waste, and I don't want to give you a hundred things to go and check out, because honestly, you don't need to. Here are a couple of brilliant blog posts I've discovered and a few books you might want to check out.
You Can Eat That?? Reduce Waste with 40+ Root to Stem Recipes!
This post is chock full of information, tips and recipes to use so many parts of foods that many of us throw away without even realising we can eat it.
So You Think You Can't Compost?
If you have ever wondered about why compost is so great, and how to do it, then it is a must read. This covers all types of composting, including if you live in a small an apartment and you might just discover that YES, you can compost.
Books on Food Waste
My Zero Waste Kitchen
This is great for the beginner or anyone who wants quick, easy tips to use food better. It won't take you long to read this one and personally, I recommend just borrowing this from the library.
Waste Free Kitchen Handbook by Dana Gunders
Another brilliant book full of amazing facts, figures and advice. You'll learn how to use your fridge better, which fruits and vegetables never to store together and a host of other useful stuff.
*This post contains affiliate links. This means I may receive a small commission that is used to keep this website up and running.
Did you discover a way to reduce the food waste in your house?
Remember, if it's all seeming a bit overwhelming, just ONE action makes a difference and can start you on your journey in the War on Food Waste. And don't let guilt get you down, we all make mistakes and it's just an opportunity to do better next time.
Feel free to add your food waste tips below or tell us what actions you're taking.
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