Sustainability Tip 58: Don’t Let Your Food Go To Waste

Between 33-50% of all food produced globally is never eaten. Meanwhile, 1 in 9 people around the world go to bed hungry every night.

These statistics are as shocking as they are terrible. Clearly, the way we manage our food needs to change, not just for people but for the planet, too.

To put this problem into perspective even further, it takes a landmass larger than China and 25% of all global freshwater consumption just to grow the food that is wasted each year.

Not only are all of these resources that go into creating uneaten food wasted, but when it ends up in landfill, it decomposes and releases greenhouse gases that heat the atmosphere.

Because of how much is thrown away, if food waste were a country, it would be the third-largest greenhouse gas emitter after China and the U.S.

You may think that food waste isn’t really your problem; it’s supermarkets and restaurants who are at fault. Yet, the average UK family throws away almost a quarter of their weekly shop, which means they’re also wasting hundreds of pounds each year.

With wasting food harming people, the planet, and your pocket, what can we do to waste less?

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Plan ahead

One major way to reduce food waste is simply to spend a little time planning. Before shopping, think of the meals you want to prepare for the following week. Check what items you’ve got already, then make a list of things you still need. Once you are in the shop, stick to the list.

Store your food properly

If food is not stored or handled properly, it can go off much faster, so make sure you know how to manage your foods.

Always store bananas, apples and tomatoes by themselves since these items emit natural gases that can spoil any produce around them. Foods like broccoli, cauliflower and celery stalks should be eaten first. For items like berries, wait to wash them until right before you eat them to prevent mould.

Check the use-by dates of fresh food when you buy it

Make sure you’re looking at the use-by-date rather than the best-before date! Only buy what you can use before it expires.

a couple chopping vegetables and cooking in their kitchen

Love your freezer

When it comes to food waste, your freezer is a very effective tool. Not only can you freeze leftovers for another day, but you can also freeze food that you might not use up in time to give them a new lease of life! You could even use the weekend to batch-cook and freeze, saving time on cooking during the week.

This is especially great for things that go off quickly, such as fruit and veg or bread. You can freeze the loaf when you get home from the store and take out a few slices a couple of hours before you need them.

Revive food that’s on its way out

Often, food gets thrown out as soon as it starts to show signs of going off, yet there are many ways to preserve its life. For example, use your brown bananas in a smoothie, put your wilted lettuce in a bowl of cold water until it gets crisp again, or use your old milk in some baking.

Sometimes, it feels like food waste is still unavoidable, which is why we want to introduce you to OLIO.

OLIO connects neighbours with each other and with local businesses so surplus food can be shared, not thrown away. This could be food nearing its sell-by date in local stores, spare home-grown vegetables, bread from your baker, or the groceries in your fridge when you go away. OLIO can even be used for non-food household items!

Whether online or on the app, it’s super easy to use. To access items, simply open the app, browse the listings available near you, request whatever takes your fancy and arrange a pick-up via private messaging. If you want to add something yourself, just add a photo, description, and when and where the item is available for pick-up.

OLIO believes, just like we do at Play it Green, that small actions can lead to big change. Collectively – one rescued cupcake, carrot or bottle of lotion at a time – we can build a more sustainable future where our most precious resources are shared, not thrown away.

Try it out today by visiting the OLIO website or searching OLIO on the app store to download for free.

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