This week marks Food Waste Action Week, so we thought we would share some top tips for reducing food waste at home. Tackling your food waste can make a positive environmental contribution as well as saving you money on your weekly shop. Read on to find out how you can reduce your food waste!
Why do we need to reduce our food waste?
Did you know that globally, one third of food produced for human consumption is wasted? That amounts to 1.3 billion tonnes wasted each year! When you consider the environmental impact the food system has on the planet and the amount of people in the world facing hunger, this seems absurd! Not to mention the fact that we need to produce 60% more food by 2050 to feed the growing population.
In the UK we throw away 6.6 million tonnes of food waste every year, with around 75% of this still being edible when it’s chucked! Here are some top tips that we use to keep our food waste to a minimum, we hope you’ll find them useful too.
1. Plan Ahead
Planning your meals and making a shopping list will help to reduce food waste. Lots of us forget what we’ve already got at the back of those cupboards or hiding away in the fridge and end up buying things we’ve already got, which can lead to throwing things out!
Taking some time to have a think about what you need and what meals you’ll be eating is a great way to avoid this.
2. Get Creative
There are lots of creative ways to use up leftovers and food scraps. You might be surprised by how much of the parts of plants we throw away are actually edible. If in doubt ask us (or google!).
From saving veg peelings to make stocks (pop them in the freezer until you have enough), to cooking with banana peels, eating your Broccoli stalks and toasting the seeds from your Pumpkins, there are loads of ways to get the most out of your food.
It’s definitely worth thinking about what you can save from going into the bin by getting creative in the kitchen!
3. Understand Food Labels
Understanding the difference between Best Before and Use By labels is a really important one when it comes to food waste. Use By labels indicate if a product is safe to eat or not: if something is beyond its Use By date, we shouldn’t eat it even if it looks okay.
On the other hand, Best Before labels indicate when a product is at its best. If something is past its Best Before date, it can still be okay to eat so check it out and make a judgement using your senses.
4. Freeze it!
Your freezer is your best friend when it comes to food waste. Not only can you freeze leftovers for another day, you can also freeze things that you might not use up in time to give them a new lease of life!
If you’ve got fresh herbs leftover, why not chop them up and freeze them. You can even use an ice-cube tray to store them in handy sized portions, just top them up with water or olive oil to make them easy to pop out!
If you love toast but find your bread is going off before you can use the whole loaf, why not freeze it. Then you can just take out a slice (or two) at a time, just pop it straight in the toaster when you fancy some!
Our nutritional therapist, Jill, is a great advocate of freezing bananas and other fruits to add to your smoothies. If your berries are starting to look a bit less than their best, pop them in the freezer to use in a smoothie later. Buying frozen fruit and veg is also a great tactic to reduce waste: you won’t waste anything because you can just use what you need and the rest will stay fresh in the freezer!
5. Grow your own!
One of the major benefits of growing your own food is that you can harvest what you need and the rest will keep growing! A great one for this is lettuce, if you grow your own you can simply cut off the leaves you need and leave the rest to grow. This means no more bags of limp or slimy salad in the fridge!
Growing herbs at home is something lots of us have tried at one time or another. The appeal is obvious, an unlimited herb supply! When we buy bagged herbs from supermarkets, they often go off before we have a chance to use them up leaving us with limp leaves that end up in the bin.
Growing your own is a great way of avoiding this because you can just snip off what you need for your recipe and the rest will keep growing for next time. As a bonus, you’ll also avoid the single-use plastic packaging herbs usually come in (yay!).
Sometimes keeping your herb plants alive can be difficult, that’s why we put together some top tips for looking after them, from advice on choosing the right plants to repotting them and watering them regularly, we’ve got it covered.
Did you know another great way of using food scraps is to turn them into new food? You can grow lots of vegetables this way, including Spring Onions, Celery and Peppers. All you need to do is keep hold of the part of the plant with its roots, or in the case of peppers and the like, its seeds and you’ll be able to grow new food from them. Check it out here.
Sometimes things are simply gone off and no amount of creativity will make them edible again! When it comes to this, composting is a great solution. Putting your food scraps into a compost bin is better than sending them to landfill because they will be broken down into compost that can be used again to feed plants.
A wormery is a specific type of composter that harnesses the power of the humble worm to transform your food waste! The worms essentially eat your food scraps and produce both a liquid fertiliser and a nutrient rich compost. They’re a great gardening project if you’re getting serious about growing your own and reducing food waste. Wormery design has come a long way and there are some great home-friendly options on the market now.
We’re all becoming more aware of our impact on the environment and looking for ways to reduce it where we can. Some changes can be difficult to make, but reducing food waste is something that is definitely achievable, so we hope you’ll find these tips useful! We’d love to hear what your top tips are for reducing your food waste, let us know here!
Square Mile Farms are on a mission to help city dwellers grow their own. We bring people closer to their food and create a culture of healthy, sustainable living using vertical farming. If you’re curious about our vertical gardens read more about our solutions for homes and offices. Why not join our online Urban Growing Community for advice on growing at home and much more!
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Sources and Further Reading