Food Waste Stories

The Environmental, Social and Economic Impact of Food Wastage

Thursday 17th April 2014

Guest blog -  Ruth Barton works as a content specialist for
Fountain Partnership
, she is a professional writer who is passionate about environmental issues. She is constantly looking for ways to reduce her carbon footprint. 

According to Love Food Hate Waste, homes in the UK are responsible for throwing away around seven million tonnes of food and drink each year. Research shows that around 20% of what households buy ends up as waste and that almost two thirds of the food binned could actually have been eaten.

Reducing the amount of food waste in the home is becoming increasingly important, especially with the number people in the UK struggling to feed their family and the increasing reliance on food banks.

The economic downturn has seen the demand of food banks soar throughout the UK, The Trussell Trust have found that they are currently opening at a rate of three a week, and that the number of people turning to food banks increased to 346,992 during 2012-2013, a 170% increase on the previous year.

To help meet the rising demand in food banks they require ample donations and financial support. In 2012-2013, a total of 2,462 tonnes of food was donated by the public to hungry mouths. Although this is a fantastic achievement - when put into context with the amount of food that gets binned each year, the food that’s donated only makes up one third of that thrown away.

Recently, Best of Suffolk, a company that specialises in Suffolk Cottages donated £3,000 to the East Suffolk Food Bank, a project seeded by the Trussell Trust. Business director, Naomi Tarry explained “Being able to feed yourself and your family is such a basic need that has to be met. This charity does great work at providing for those along the coastline and we really want to give back to the community”

Binning unnecessary food does not only have an indirect impact on those who cannot afford to feed themselves it is also extremely costly to homeowners in the UK. On average, the price of wasted food is setting the average household back by around around £470 a year and costs up to £700 for a family with children, equating to a staggering total of £60 a month.

The food wastage doesn’t just have an impact on the UK’s wallets; it also has a massive impact on the UK’s carbon and water footprint. If there was no food waste whatsoever in the UK it would be equal to taking 25% of call cars off the road and our overall water footprint would be reduced by almost 5%.

So, reducing food wastage is a no brainer, not only will it help reduce both your carbon and water footprint, it will save you money some of which you can potentially donate to food banks. Here are a few ways to reduce food wastage:

-        Plan your meals:  Simply having in mind what you’re going to eat for the rest of the week is a fantastic way to make yourself aware of what you have in your fridge and cupboards and also what you need to buy. Write down your meal plan at the same time as putting together your shopping list, it will help yourself and your family take it more seriously and also remind you of what you need to buy.

-        Follow your shopping list: try not to be drawn in by special offers and food items that are not on your list- particularly if they are perishable. It’s the supermarket’s aim to make you spend as much money as possible and this often means buying what you don’t need. Bear this in mind and stick to your list! BOGOF and three for two offers are particularly guilty of making people buy more food than they need ultimately meaning that the ‘free’ food ends up in the bin.

-        Blitz it: Fruit and vegetables are the most wasted food, accounting for nearly half of all the binned food. If you are aware something fresh might be on the turn, try actively to do something with it. Use smoothies and soups to your advantage, not only are they healthy options but they are a fantastic way to use up large quantities of fruit and vegetables. Placing a paper towel in your salad bag and rolling it tightly is another great way of preserving its life, it will absorb excess water helping your salad to stay fresh for longer.



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