Food waste warriors OzHarvest says reducing food waste is the third most effective way to address climate change.
Sceptical? The numbers paint a vivid picture; wasted food contributes up to 10% of global total global emissions, compared to flying (1.9%), plastic production (3.8%) and oil extraction (3.8%). Eliminating global food waste would save 4.4 million tonnes of C02 a year, the equivalent of taking one in four cars off the road. Not to mention rotting food sitting in landfill produces methane, which is 28 times stronger than carbon dioxide.
How much food are we actually wasting?
One third of all food produced globally (weighing in at around 1.3 billion tonnes) is lost or wasted. On a local level, Aussies waste 7.6 million tonnes of food per year, 70 percent of which is perfectly edible.
Perhaps unsurprisingly to those of us responsible for cleaning out the fridge, the top five most wasted foods in Australia are vegetables, bread, fruit, bagged salad, and leftovers.
Being organised is key
Reducing food waste doesn’t have to be difficult, and here are five easy ways you can reduce yours (and save scads of money and time in supermarket queues!)
- Take care to store food correctly. If you have leftovers and no idea when you’re likely to eat them, pop them in an airtight container, ideally with a date sticker on them, and freeze them. Planning on eating them soonish? Make sure they sit in a spot in your fridge where you’ll easily spot them – a lot of leftovers hit the bin thanks to ‘out of sight, out of mind.’
- Along the same lines, when you bring home your shopping, ensure the older food comes to the front of the shelves to be eaten first, with the freshest going to the back – unless the items are highly perishable.
- Are you a big believer that fresh is best? Consider if buying less more frequently is better for you. Bonus tip: Ozharvest recommends if you struggle with food waste, use up what you have before you visit the store.
- Buy only what you need. While it’s great for your budget to pick your purchases based on what’s on special (you can’t plan for that 50 cent litre of milk or half off steak markdowns!) do have some idea of how you will use it and if you have everything you need to prepare a dish with it.
- Learn some simple tricks for reviving leftovers. Cooked veggies, for example, are quite versatile. Roast or steamed veggies can be diced and added to rice with a little cheese, salt and pepper for an easy risotto, or added to tinned tomatoes, garlic and herbs for a simple pasta sauce. Make a delicious lunch by adding to some eggs and baking them into a frittata. Got some cold leftover pasta? Dice up your veggies, toss with some dressing and herbs and create a delicious pasta salad.
It's super easy to leave food beyond its use-by date, but putting a little more time into reducing your waste can save you money and help you do your part to help reduce those CO2 emissions.