The food industry is a significant contributor to climate change globally. It’s important to evaluate what we eat, where it comes from and what resources are used to produce it. We can also make changes to how we dispose of food by using composting as an alternative to landfill.
However, there is one significant positive step that we can all make, even before changing what we eat. That is, by looking at what we don’t eat. More specifically, what we throw out. The Do Something! website, using data provided by the Australian government, calculated that Australia throws out around $8 billion worth of food every year, a staggering 4 million tonnes of waste. This is approximately 20% of the food we buy.
Not only does wasted food have a high environmental cost, but it is also costing families dearly. The NSW government’s Love Food Hate Waste website estimates that the average family in the state throws $3,800 of money into the bin each year, in the form of wasted food.
Reducing food waste is an example of a circumstance where our own interests, and the environment’s interests are perfectly aligned.
Even if you don’t yet have the time or energy to take on the project of food waste reduction right now, just commit to photographing food before you throw it in the bin. Save all those photos in a folder on your phone called ‘food waste’. This will immediately make you more conscious of what you waste, and subconsciously you may waste less as a result. It also means that, at a later date, you can look back at the photos and use them to inform your changes, as you’ll see which items often got thrown out.
Get educated on minimising food waste at home. Visit the Love food Hate waste website and read up on the six tips for food waste reduction. It’s even better if you can do this with your whole family, so that everyone in the household has a better understanding of how to reduce food waste.
Get the family involved in a project of reducing food waste by saving for something else. Following the six steps from the Love Food Hate Waste website, identify what you waste and how you can waste less money in the form of food. Draw up an action plan for how each person will contribute. Contributions could be individual actions like eating food closer to its expiry first, or bigger roles like meal planning, and storing food to prolong its life. Put the money you save into an account and do something fun as a family instead. Aside from the short term benefits, this means you’ll be raising children who have a good understanding of how to minimise their own food waste.
Guest author: Cheryl Edwards