Do you know how much food you throw away every week?
Food waste is a huge problem with Irish households throwing away as much as a third of the food we buy.
There’s a huge amount of food wastage in the supply chain, from farm to fork, as they say with 88 million tonnes of food waste produced in the EU every year. Up to 47 million tonnes of that is household food waste. That’s 187 kilos of food waste every year for every man, woman and child in the EU.
Domestic food waste costs Irish people an estimated €700 per year but the real cost is in the environmental effects. All that food that never gets consumed requires water and energy to grow, harvest, transport, prepare, package and store with serious and irreversible effects on the local and global environment.
It is all our responsibility to reduce our domestic food waste and fortunately, there are a lot of very simple things we can do that can make a big difference, starting today. Livegreen is an information portal created by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that provides lots of clear and practical information and advice on how people can live in a more sustainable, cost-effective, healthier and happier way.
Here are a few changes you can make to reduce your household food waste today:
Make a list of the food you throw away
Start by noting exactly the food you throw away every day. You’d be surprised at all the food that goes into the organic rubbish bin. Unfortunately, we’re in such a habit of throwing away food that we’ve become blind to what we’re doing. If you write it all down, you’ll see that whether it’s a little or not, there are straight away foods that you can eliminate from your shopping.
Don’t shop when hungry
Give yourself every chance of coming home with no more than you need by shopping after you’ve eaten. Studies have shown that when people shop while hungry they buy more than they intended but they also choose higher calorie food. To make sure you limit your food waste and that you and your family are eating a balanced and healthy diet, don’t do the shopping with a rumbling stomach.
Take a photo of fridge
If you take a quick snap of the fridge with your phone before you do the shopping you’ll have a reference when you’re standing in the aisle at the supermarket scratching your head wondering if you already have enough yoghurt or not.
Check use-by dates
Check use-by dates on fresh foods so you know exactly how long they will last. If something will go off quickly, you need to be sure that you’re going to use it within that time. Otherwise, it might just end up in the bin. Choose something with a date furthest away to give you the maximum time to use it.
Beware of special deals
Special deals such ‘3 for 2’ or 30% extra can seem very attractive in the supermarket, but make sure you’re not just buying more because of the perceived value. Are you actually going to eat twice as many carrots this week?
Plan your weekly meals
Probably the most effective thing you can do to reduce your food waste is to plan your weekly meals. Whether you’re cooking for one or fifteen, if you plan your meals day by day, you’ll know exactly what you need to keep everyone fed. By dividing out the ingredients you’ll need per meal you’ll shop better and save money.
Shop online for basics
It’s a lot easier to shop for only what you need online than in the supermarket where you can be tempted with offers and product positioning. Get your list out and be methodical with your main shop, then you only have to pop to the shops for the day-to-day things you’ll find it easier to limit what you throw away.
Collect recipes for leftovers
Start scouring the Internet for recipes for all your leftovers. Even if you don’t plan on having any leftovers of a particular food you’ll subconsciously be aware of what you can reuse when you’re doing your shopping. You’ll also realise that some food is quite often, much better when eaten the next day.
We all have good intentions of eating more fruit and veg but hell is paved with good intentions. Maybe you’re planning on having salad for dinner three days this week but is that realistic? If you’re planning on changing your eating habits and include more fresh fruit and vegetables, try front-loading the week with the healthy stuff. That way you be sure you eat what you buy, but it also means you can look forward to the rest of the week when you can indulge a little bit more.
Don’t buy overripe fruit or veg
Check the ripening condition of your fruit and veg – green bananas will last longer than spotted yellow ones. Food that’s close to its use by date can often be better value as supermarkets hope to shift it, but again, you need to be sure you’re going to eat it soon before it ends up in the bin.
Livegreen was created by the EPA in 2016, Livegreen is an educational & informative one-stop web page which reaches out to the ordinary household persons/families providing advice, awareness and education on sustainability. It provides information on how they can make little changes to their habits/behaviours at home that in turn will hugely improve their quality of life. This website was created by the EPA with the help of HSE/Irish Water/SEAI, one of the aims of the website is that the householder becomes more aware and resource efficient (living better & using less). The website provides householders with information/advice across the following areas: Water Conservation, Waste Prevention, Energy Efficiency, Health & Community projects.
Visit http://www.epa.ie/livegreen for more information.