With the cost to the Australian economy of food waste now estimate to be around $20 billion each year, it’s time we all do our bit to cut down on the way we buy, use and dispose of food in our homes.
The Australian Government has committed to a strategy that aims to halve Australia’s food waste by 2030 by addressing issues that contribute to food waste, from production to distribution, to retail food sales and waste management.
More and more we are seeking the convenience of pre-prepared food which not only impacts our health but threatens the sustainability of our environment. Organisations such as Foodwise are working to raise awareness of the impacts of the trend towards imported foods and the environmental impact of resources used in “growing, processing, packaging and transportation of modern food”. It is our responsibility to help the cause by rethinking our own attitudes, educating our children and starting to change the way we think about how we prepare, store and throw food away.
Here are 6 signs you need to address food waste in your home:
1. You throw fruit and vegetables away every week
You’re buying too much food. According to Foodwise, Australians discard up to 20% of the food they purchase! In order to buy only what you need, work to a shopping list each week that is borne out of planning ahead the meals you will cook each night and stick to it.
“When you throw out food, you also waster the water, fuel and resources it took to get the food from the paddock to your plate”Foodwise
2. You don’t have time to cook from scratch
It’s all about planning and allowing time to cook meals with more flavour. Working families might dedicate an evening or weekend day to do some baking and a big cook-up for the week ahead. Fresh is best but when planning your weekly meals, buy food that’s in season and look to what’s already in your pantry – perhaps something you had a plan for and didn’t use (Israeli cous cous, anyone?) or can work into a new, or repeated recipe that saves money, packaging, time and waste.
3. Your fridge is full but there’s nothing to eat
Do a regular fridge audit every week. Don’t let good food languish in the fridge and go to waste – freeze leftover sauces, make soups and stir-frys with a mix of leftover vegetables and keep an eye on use-by dates on dairy products.
4. You throw away organic food scraps when preparing food
That guilty feeling you get when you dump a whole pile of food scraps straight into the bin can be turned to the satisfaction of using a healthier way to get rid of your organic waste - by breaking it down into food for your garden via a compost bin or worm farm. Contact your local council for where to buy/start one in your home.
“47% of the average household bin is organic waste. Most of that waste can break down naturally in household compost bin.”Foodwise
5. You are binning leftovers from meal times
Save your leftovers to minimise the food that is thrown away at the end of a meal by exercising better portion control. Plan to allow for leftovers for lunches and after-school snacks - this will also reduce the need for packaged snack foods, so is a win-win!
6. Your food goes off before you have a chance to use it
Invest time and money in sustainable storage for your fresh ingredients so you only need to shop once and it will stay fresh until you need it. Tupperware or similar containers, or products such as The Swag can extend the life of your fresh fruit and veggies better than - and are more environmentally friendly than - plastic bags.
A good trick is to store new items at the back of the fridge so you’re constantly “rotating stock” as in a supermarket.
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