In this instalment of the series “energy saving around the house” we’re going to take a look at something, we could all improve on, food waste. Approximately one-third of all food produced globally goes to waste, another way of putting that is an area larger than China is used to grow food that never gets eaten. In the UK, 6.7 million tonnes of food is wasted per year which totals to costs of £10.2 billion each year. This represents costs of £250-£400 per household per year.
Much of the blame lies within food supply chains and supermarkets over-ordering stocks, however, a large proportion of the food is still wasted domestically once the food is purchased. You may be wondering how food waste is linked to energy and global warming? The answer is there are carbon-heavy steps in every process of food production, from harvesting and packaging to transportation and sale by the supermarkets and finally to the fridge in your home. By reducing the amount of food we waste we will reduce the demand of the food supply chain and drastically lower the carbon footprint of the whole process, with the happy byproduct of saving money in the process.
Our first piece of advice is to plan your food shopping properly and to stick to it while you’re in the shop. Think of the meals that you’re going to have over the next week and also make sure you take into account the food that you already have and see if you can work that into your meal plan, instead of buying new ingredients and throwing away the old ones. Getting into the routine of planned shopping will help ensure that you are not over purchasing and wasting valuable food.
If you are fortunate enough to own a freezer then make sure that you take full advantage of it. Freezing food is a fantastic way to make sure your food will not “go off”. It opens up the opportunity to cook large meals and freeze the rest to save throwing it away, it’s also very convenient if you want something quick to eat in the future. You can even freeze the raw ingredients if you don’t anticipate that you’ll use them in time! Just make sure that you bag and label your food so as not to get confused.
If you have a garden then you have a great opportunity to effectively reduce your kitchen waste to nearly zero by starting a compost pile. Composting is the natural process of recycling organic matter, such as leaves and food scraps, into a valuable fertilizer that can enrich soil and plants. You can buy specialised compost bins for your garden in which you can deposit your vegetable and general food scraps along with general garden waste.
The combination of food waste, garden waste and a warm, enclosed environment gives bacteria, fungi, and other decomposing organisms what it needs to dramatically speed up the decomposition process. Composting your food waste in your garden will also slash carbon dioxide and methane emissions from landfills as your waste will aerobically decompose with organisms that require oxygen instead of when your waste goes into a landfill and is buried under large amounts of rubbish. When this happens, the waste ends up undergoing anaerobic decomposition (being broken down by organisms that survive without free-flowing oxygen). During anaerobic decomposition, biogas is created as a by-product. This biogas is roughly 50 per cent methane and 50 per cent carbon dioxide, both of which are potent greenhouse gases, with methane being 28 to 36 times more effective than CO2 at trapping heat in the atmosphere over a century.
By following these three key tips you will be able to cut your food waste down to a minimum while saving money and the planet at the same time!
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