We are edging closer to a virtual event we should all be interested in: Stop Food Waste Day, a free online event you can sign up for here.
Food waste is central to some of the key challenges facing the world today, including hunger and poverty, climate change, health and wellbeing and the sustainability of agriculture and oceans.
If we are honest, how much food do we waste? When I mentioned it on Facebook, a lady called Iva kindly came back to me, saying:
I’ve noticed more and more businesses working against the food waste. For example Lidl in Bude sells those fruit/veg boxes for £1.50 with items they can’t sell any longer in the shop.
Landsdown bakery has signed up to a platform called “Too Good To Go”, so basically you can get a box worth of £10 for £3.50 and pick it up after the shop closes. I’ve never tried it but thought it’s a smart way to avoid food waste for cafes and restaurants and it might be great if more business follow that trend/movement.
It’s horrible how much food waste we have, so I personally try to reduce mine as much as possible. There are some very useful tips on Instagram; for example, you can use rhubarb skin to make a delicious syrup or banana peel for your plants and much more. Just search on Instagram for Zero Waste.
Of course, in Bude, The Refill Shop also ensures you can buy just what you need of certain products.
Supermarkets often sell end of shelf life items very cheaply. I got salad bags, herbs and a mixed veg box very cheaply in Bude last week – and used it all! Many supermarkets also donate to food banks, as do food companies, often via Fare Share.
The issue is more one for us as individuals to think harder about what we buy and not be enticed by bogof offers, etc., unless we know we will use the food.
Local writer and environmentalist, Martin Dorey, has written a blog post on this very subject. This is what he suggests to reduce waste (notes in italics from me):
Statistics show that we throw away one fifth of all food we buy! Most of this ends up in landfill. What a waste.
Here’s how we can help mitigate this:
- Compost! Instead of chucking food waste in the bin, compost it. It’s good for the planet and a much better use of your left-over veggies and peelings. If you don’t have the option to compost at home there are often food waste caddies provided by the local council. Torridge Council is great for this. Cornwall Council has been catching up, I think.
- Don’t buy more than you need! Shop from your local butchers, bakers and grocers little and often, minimising your waste and keeping your fridge fresh. The only issue with this one is that not everyone lives close to a town centre, and not all small village shops have what you need/want at specific times.
- Tins and dried food can be donated to your local food banks. Food needs to be in date.
The food industry, together with the supermarkets, is responsible for a huge amount of plastic waste. This comes from the packaging used to store and transport food, plus the plastic that is used in production.
Cut the plastic out by shopping locally. It isn’t always as easy as a flying visit to the supermarket, but the earth, the local economy and the local businesses will thank you for it. You’ll get produce that is grown in your area, therefore minimising your food’s carbon footprint and cutting out the packaging. You’ll also be helping the local economy and businesses in your area thrive, instead of lining the pockets of the supermarket giants. It’s true that local businesses are a better way of helping local economies, but, while I and many others try to buy local as much as possible, pricing is an issue – and for a family on a reduced income even more difficult. Lots of people who support shopping local regularly appear in Morrisons, etc., probably on cost grounds. So, I guess we all just need to try to do what we can.
Another thing to consider when shopping are your bags. The plastic bag charge, which was introduced in the UK in October 2015, is credited with an 86% drop in the numbers of plastic bags given out at supermarket tills. Result! Let’s stamp out the use of plastic bags entirely by taking along our backpacks, using reusable cloth bags and stashing our shop in cardboard boxes that we’ll use over and over before eventually recycling. Morsbags are amazing; I use them all the time!
So, having borrowed some of Martin’s words, here’s a little plug for his book.
One purchase I have reduced is books, much as I love them. I make great use of Bude Library which is wonderful. I guess even consciously thinking about the waste problem is a good start!
Any other ideas, please comment below.