In the global war on food waste and maintaining food security, governments have looked at the stringent laws on “Best Before” and “Use By” and educating the public on the difference. They have also attempted to work with retailers to help reduce the vast quantities of food we throw away every year.
Over 50% of food is thrown away at home and research at University of Exeter has shown that students appear to be one of the worst culprits. Catered university halls are worse with – shockingly – between 5 and 15kg thrown away every night.
Why Reduce Food Waste?
The main reason for reducing food waste is that it saves money. As students are on a limited budget, this should be a no-brainer. One issue is the number of enticing discounts on offer from supermarkets; if you buy more, they give your discount. It might sound like a great offer at the time, but will you really eat 20 apples in two weeks? If not, that extra you paid to earn a discount is wasted money and wasted food.
The second major reason is environmental impact. We are increasingly turning more land over for agriculture to cope with our growing food demands of a growing global population – but land is finite. Rainforests are cut back and natural landscapes cleared. Plus, the environmental cost of shipping these goods to you increases. Food waste is the third biggest carbon emission source worldwide.
How To Reduce Your Food Waste
In times gone by, we didn’t have enormous out of town supermarkets for our food shopping – we had greengrocers, butchers and corner shops. People shopped for little and often, and would buy a couple of days food supply at the most. It is not practical for everyone, but if you leave near a supermarket, buying what you need for a few days at a time can be a great way of reducing your food waste.
You can still save money with those attractive discounts. Instead of buying them purely for yourself, go shopping with housemates and split the costs. That way you both get only what you know you can use in a week but also get to retain the discount.
Takeaway leftovers don’t have to end up in the bin. If you’re going away for the weekend and don’t fancy the leftovers of a three day old pizza or curry, box it up and freeze it. It can be a great emergency dinner on Sunday nights when the shops are closed or a quick lunch to take with you when you are running late in the morning.
Are you part of the food sharing revolution called Olio? Mobile technology and location sharing helps connect people with excess food to give away, share or swap – this includes individuals, shops and restaurants who may otherwise throw it away. Part social network, part drive to reduce food waste, it brings people together and you may make friends of a like mind.