Food Waste Action Week celebrates its third year in 2023, running between 6th and 12th March! This year’s Food Waste Action Week will concentrate on how we can all reduce our food waste during the cost of living crisis. The theme is Win, Don’t Bin and we’re encouraging everyone to consider how they can cut their food waste and save money.
Why do we need action on food waste?
In 2018 6.5 million tonnes of food was thrown away, of that 4.5 million tonnes, was edible and worth approximately £14 billion.
70% of this wasted food came from households and 25% of that was due to too much being prepared, cooked, and served. Unnecessary and avoidable food waste costs UK households approximately £3.5 billion each year, equal to £700 a year for an average UK family. This wasted food also makes up approximately 25 million tonnes of CO2 emissions.
What can I do to reduce my food waste?
There are some very easy steps you can follow to reduce how much food you throw away and help you save money
As well as helping you plan what food to buy and budget for it also allows you to make your food go further by planning in how to use leftovers. For example, using leftover chicken and carcass from a Sunday roast to make soup during the week. Meal plans also allow you to think about what you already have that needs to be used up and who you are cooking for.
Easy Meal Plans is a useful resource to help you start meal planning.
Meal planning and shopping lists are the perfect pairing, once you’ve drawn up your meal plan. It helps you have a clear idea of what you need to buy then sticking to a shopping list and makes it much to easier to only buy what is needed. If the prospect of having to keep a physical list seems too much, there are some great apps available which combine meal planning with shopping lists. You just need to check your cupboards to see what you already have in stock!
The best way to ensure your food lasts as long as it can is to make sure that you are storing it correctly. Many people still use a fruit bowl but in fact, most fruits last much longer if they are stored in the fridge, equally bread and sauces last longer when they are stored in a cold dry cupboard rather than a fridge. See foods you’ve been storing in the wrong place for more information.
The cost-of-living crisis has seen more people relying on food that may already be close to an expiration date, such as yellow stickered foods. You can actually freeze most foods, including dairy, at any point up to its best before date. Freezing is a good way to store something you might not get around to eating rather than throwing it away.
As well as food close to expiration date, batch cooking and freezing allows you to use larger packs of ingredients which can be more cost effective. By portioning and freezing you have easy meals available to you which won’t produce any further waste. Plus, if you are reheating using a microwave, you will also save energy!
Use it all
Whether its left overs or veg peelings you can make a big difference by using it all. For example, if your making a cauliflower cheese and don’t know what to do with the stalks and leaves, boil them up in a pan add seasoning or some cheese and blitz and you have a lovely soup. And you can freeze and use the rest another day. Leftovers can be frozen, used in lunch boxes or made into another meal altogether. There are lots of resources available to help you use it all, even the scraps. You can find all kinds of recipes for your leftovers at Love Food Hate Waste or get creative and try developing your own recipes.
What are PECT doing to help reduce food waste?
Here at PECT we have been working hard to reduce our own food waste and using our existing projects to reduce food waste across Peterborough.
Our current projects that can help you to reduce food waste include:
PECT have been working with residents in March to establish their first community fridge. Located in FACT’s Community Hub in March, the Community Fridge project has been made possible thanks to Section 106 ‘Monies for Environmental Projects’. This fund is by Fenland District Council and the cooperation of the supermarkets, cafes and farms that are making food, that would otherwise go to waste, available.
The fridge is open on Mondays and Fridays from 10am-12noon. To learn more visit Community Fridge Project – March – Projects – PECT
If you are interested in volunteering, donating or using your local Community Fridge you can find your local here.
FOOD SMART FOR SCHOOLS
Food Smart is PECT School Accreditation scheme to bring more healthy meals to children. Working as part of a wider ‘Healthy Schools’ programme, we offer training, lesson plans and resources for teachers to build their awareness and confidence in food education. Plus, we offer opportunities for students to learn more about and take part in workshops to discover how our food affects us, how it is grown, where it comes from and a variety of different cooking methods.
Need someone to help you reduce your environmental impact in the kitchen? How about someone to keep you accountable? This is where Cool Food steps in! Families are encouraged to sign up to the Cool Food calculator and record their changes so that they can see how much CO2 they are saving. And the difference they are making! One of the easiest changes householders can make is to reduce their food waste. So why not use some of the tips above and make a Cool Food pledge?
Cool Food Pro
After the success of the Cool Food project, the next phase was to work with caterers! The new aim was to remove 1000 tonnes of CO2 from the atmosphere by applying the same principles to the professional catering sector. A carbon calculator was developed in collaboration with professional caterers to identify where and how carbon savings could be made. In addition to reducing food waste caterers can also commit to reducing their meat use, buying seasonal, buying local and buying organic. The overall goal is to make lots of small switches add up to a more sustainable catering industry.
To date Cool Food Pro calculator has recorded 1539 tonnes of CO2 savings, beating their target by over 1/3 and, of that, 62 tonnes is due to a reduction of food waste. To see all the carbon savings made so far visit coolfoodpro.net/en.
If you work in the catering sector and would like advice about how you can get involved with Cool Food Pro please email [email protected].
For more information on the campaign head to: Food Waste Action Week.