As horrible pictures and videos of swamps of rubbish and the consequences of treating our planet as a tip have grabbed attention this year, many have become more sensitive to waste sand plastic pollution. Calls to ban straw and plastic bags in many countries show a positive change in how people are thinking about waste. While this is a great sign, and one that we wholeheartedly support, one type of waste seems to have slipped under the radar: food waste.
Waste not, want not. The old adage has been heard at many a dinner table to encourage children to finish their meals, and to spare a thought for those less fortunate. In stark contrast to the number of people without access to sufficient food, we waste 1.3 billion tonnes of food every year, i.e. roughly a third of what is produced globally. This waste contributes up to 4.4 GtCO2 eq – For the uninitiated, CO2 eq is the unit of measurement used by the UN to quantify the impact of greenhouse gases, by using carbon dioxide as the common base. In short, food wastage is responsible for a range of different greenhouse gases being released into the atmosphere, which can be measured to be equal to 4.4 gigatons (4.4 billion tonnes) of CO2. That’s 8% of the total anthropogenic GHG emissions, that’s almost the same as the total emissions caused by road transport.
You can play a part in cutting these figures down and creating a better future for the planet. Preventing food waste needs to happen at every level of the food system, and your changes at home not only reduce your impact, but they send a message higher up the chain.
Take a look at our quick guide of tips and tricks to help you reduce the amount of food that gets thrown into the bin. Remember #FoodforChange starts with what you put in your plate (and how much of it you throw out!)
- Will it blend? Often the flavor-packed stems and leaves of vegetables are tossed away because of their unpalatable texture or consistency! Enter the blender: in just a few seconds and with a dash of water, you have a supercharged stock to add to soups, pastes, and sauces! If you’re not ready to use it, freeze it into easy to grab blocks (e.g. put them in the ice cube tray) and throw them in the pot when you need them!
- A-peel to your other senses! Once you have juiced your lemon, lime, or orange, don’t throw it away! Citrus peels are full of lovely, zesty flavor to grate or scrape into batters for cakes or cookies, or you can throw the peels on a fire or stove to fill your home with the aromas of an orange orchard! Citrus is also a great addition to any homemade cleaning products, the acidity proving a natural way to attack all sorts of grime and grease, with a lovely smell to boot!
- 3. Get inspired! Your recipe might call for egg yolks but not the whites, or apples, but peeled and nude! What do you do with the leftover bits? Have no fear, plenty of chefs are way ahead of you on how to best use every last centimeter of a beetroot or fennel – Get online and look up some recipes, you’ll be shocked at how many things you can make from the food that you might otherwise throw away!
- Beauty is in the eye of the beholder eater! An obscene number of fruit and vegetables are thrown out because they don’t look right. This so-called ‘ugly’ produce is often of top quality and tastes absolutely equal to (sometimes better than) more ‘attractive’ ingredients. If you can’t bring yourself to eat a weird looking apple or a twisted zucchini, give them a cheeky makeover by slicing and dicing, throwing them in the oven to roast slowly and wilt, or popping them into a blender.
- Plan for perfection! At least once a week, sit down and write out a plan of your meals for the week. Think about what is in season and what you are able/want to cook, and head to the market with a clear idea of what you need and how much. With a simple meal plan, and a shopping list, you can massively cut down on food waste, buying what you need and using it means no forgotten ingredients lurking at the back of the fridge growing beards (of mold). You’ll save money too!
- Become a farmer! (A worm farmer!) Even the smallest apartment can accommodate a little worm farm, Food scraps go in, super-duper organic fertilizer comes out. Your little worms can munch through most things that you can throw at them, and the maintenance required to keep them happy is minimal (far less than a cat or dog for example.) They’re genuinely great pets!