10 ways to reduce food waste

Food waste feeds climate change. It’s as simple as that. To stop feeding the beast, we must reduce food waste as much as possible. Food waste is not sustainable at current levels, so we’re jumping through the waste hierarchy to discover how we can minimise its impact. Food waste prevention is where we want to begin, but as always at Greenredeem, we’re not looking to run at 100mph with this. We’ll guide you through 10 simple ways to make food waste more sustainable for the planet and reduce the volume of it in your home.


1. Plan your meals for the week  

Before you even contemplate heading out for your weekly food shop, you can reduce your food waste. Planning your meals in detail will drastically reduce your food waste. Making a spaghetti Bolognese? Know that you’ll need 2 and a half onions. Then figure out if there’s another meal in the week that can use the rest of that third onion. 

It means that when you head to the supermarket, you know exactly what you need to cook each meal, every day. Remember to include your lunches and breakfasts too. You’re not just writing a list of ingredients for dinners. It’s up to you how detailed it becomes, you could count the slices of bread up and know you’re making 7 sandwiches in a week or just estimate that you use one loaf a week. It’s in your control! 

2. Go shopping in your cupboards for your essentials 

When you plan out your shopping list in such high detail, the first shop you should hit is your kitchen cupboard. Keep a permanent list on your mobile device, then copy and paste it for a new one each week. By looking in your cupboards you can cross items you don’t need off the list. 

This means that if you can’t find an extra dish to use the rest of your onion in, you won’t end up with a surplus. Instead of buying 3 onions the next week, you only need to buy 2. You’ll quickly notice the cost of your essentials decreases as well as your food waste levels. 

3. Buying alternatives for food waste prevention 

Looking for alternatives in your food shop is a great tactic for food waste prevention. Consider milk, it is one of the most wasted food items in the country. If you’re not drinking a lot of it, could you purchase UHT milk instead that has a longer shelf life? Instead of a bag of fresh peas, could you go for the tinned stuff? Think about how buying alternatives could reduce the pressure to use every last food item in your house before it goes out of date.  

4. If you find yourself binning items regularly – such as milk or bread – freeze them 

Your freezer is your secret weapon. It can quite literally put a pause on your food waste. If you find yourself wasting items on a regular basis like bread, why not pop it in your freezer? You’ll be amazed at the items that you can pop in your freezer. Check out some of these unknown freezer gems: 

  • Nuts 
  • Stock 
  • Eggs (cracked into small containers) 
  • Peeled bananas 
  • Breadcrumbs  
  • Butter 
  • Flour 
  • Herbs and chillies  

Remember that if you’re going to freeze an item, let it reach room temperature before putting it in the freezer. Consider that if you’re going to freeze milk you need it to be in an airtight container and it might need blending afterwards. 

5. Storage tips and tricks for your foods 

Believe it or not, you might be encouraging your food to go off simply by how you store it. We have done some investigating and through our tried and tested methods we’ve got a few solutions for storing foods that are regularly thrown away in households. Here are a few food waste prevention tips: 

  • Store bananas separately to other fruit so that they last longer 
  • Wash your berries in a 1 part vinegar and 10 part water solution before storing them – it can help strawberries last 2 weeks longer and you won’t taste the vinegar 
  • Pop your onions in a pair of tights, with a knot between each onion, then store them in a cool dry place. It can help them last up to 8 months longer! 
  • Store your asparagus like you would a bouquet of flowers. Tips trimmed, in a jar of water – then in the fridge 
  • Wrap cheese in baking parchment not cling film – it needs to breathe 
  • Put a paper towel under your lettuce to absorb moisture 
  • Wrap broccoli and celery in foil not cling film, it helps them last up to 1 month longer 
  • Store apples and potatoes together. The ethylene released from the apples help keep the potatoes fresh 

6. Reusing food scraps as much as possible 

When cooking your favourite meal, there will be times when you go into auto-pilot mode. It’s not a bad thing, but it is these moments where you will need to pause before putting anything in your food waste bin. It could be carrot peelings, potato peelings or broccoli stalks. These are the food scraps you’ll regularly throw away – well, no more! Reduce your food waste even further by roasting them and having them as a snack. We often pair them with hummus or other tasty dips for movie snacks. 

7. Freezing all leftovers and dedicating a day of the week to eating them 

If you’re one for cooking too much or perhaps not feeling too hungry one day, leftovers could be very common in your household. While we can plan out each tiny detail of our meals in our food shopping list, eliminating leftovers entirely is a challenge. Instead of trying to find a new solution, just freeze them. It doesn’t matter if it’s half a portion, use your freezer. Then, in a couple of weeks’ time, you can get all your leftovers together and have a big family leftover night filled with random food. We like to call it the eco-equivalent of a ‘picky tea’. Instead of cooking frozen potato smiles and chicken nuggets, we’re gathering the leftovers on the dining room table for an eco-buffet. 

8. Make use of the facilities in your community 

It can be a bit daunting trying to reduce food waste in your home, which is why it’s important to lean on and use the support of your community. There aren’t many towns without a community fridge these days so start searching for one in your local area. A community fridge is great for reducing food waste because you can donate items and take them as you please. Have your plans changed and now you don’t need an item towards the end of the week? Pop it in the community fridge as soon as you can. 

Community fridges, although can really benefit those in need, were designed to reduce food waste also. That means when popping an unwanted item in there if you spot an item that you’ll use, take it. There are no rules around who can take the food – as long as it gets used and isn’t wasted. 

9. Avoiding food waste in other areas 

It’s true that not all food waste comes from our homes. In fact, 39% of food waste comes from food service and retail. But how can we influence reducing that food waste? It all comes down to the power of the purchaser. If you know a company pops their potential food waste on an app like Too Good To Go, you can feel a bit better ethically about buying from them as opposed to a company that produces a lot of food waste. Where you spend your money has power, by funding the right companies, we can help have a small but important impact on food waste prevention. 

10. Recycle the rest! 

Food waste recycling is ultimately your last step In food waste prevention. When you’ve exhausted all preventative measures with smart shopping and storage, reused all the scraps and leftovers, avoided all the troublesome cafés, the only thing left to do is recycle. 

Pop your food waste caddy in your kitchen next to your other bins – this will prompt you to use it instead of the rubbish bin. You’ll be amazed at what can go in your food waste caddy, but as a rule, no liquids or packaging – even compostable products. Check with your council what can/can’t go in, then recycle all the food waste. By recycling food waste instead of using the rubbish bin, it can create green energy and be transformed into fertiliser.

Food waste prevention can seem like a big task, and on the whole, it is. One-third of the food produced for human consumption is wasted each year. 30% of greenhouse gas emissions are attributed to food production. However, when you break it down into 10 easy actions like we have today, you quickly realise that doing a little at home is all it takes. So, keep going with the small steps for reducing food waste and together we’ll all make the world a greener place!

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