Sustainability Sunday #70

Waste not want not – 5 tips for reducing your food waste

If you follow this blog, or my Instagram you’ll have heard me whinge about food waste on several occasions, especially the fact that Hammersmith & Fulham council are still yet to arrange separate food waste collections to save our banana skins and eggshells from going in the landfill pile. “Don’t the biodegrade in the landfill anyway?” some ask. Sadly no, when organics like food are trapped in landfill they cannot decompose because there isn’t enough air to allow the decomposition. This in fact makes it worse, as all the food does then is produce methane.

It almost physically pains me to throw away food, from a stray spring onion in the bottom drawer of the fridge, to a jar of pesto left open too long, a banana left to go brown – all accidents of every day life I know, but how can we let a little less go to waste? This week I’m bringing you 5 tips to try:

 1. Buy less

Yeah yeah yeah, the immediate response to less waste is buy less. You may have heard it a million times but there’s a reason for that. The less you buy, the less there is to go to waste. The key to buying less is first and foremost making a meal plan, not only does this help you organise your week, it also means you can only buy what you need for the meals you’ve planned. Next whilst shopping, if you can shop at a fruit and veg market, or at a supermarket where you can buy single fruit and veg, loose cheese and the like rather than packaged produce you’re already on to a winner. This means if you’re just cooking for you, you haven’t got 5 leeks to eat in a week.

 2. Take an inventory

Similarly to the above, always check you cupboards, fridge and freezer before you go shopping. We’re all guilty of heading to the shops wondering if we have something at home and then buying it just in case anyway. Check it first folks! Doing this means you can also plan meals around what you’ve already got, whether it be a soup of mixed veg, switching up a recipe to add something different or making a freezer box of goodies for stock or an emergency dinner.

 3. Cutting off the crusts

Although this still leaves a little to waste but a little bit of mould isn’t going to kill you. Cheese is the perfect example of this, a lot of cheese basically is mould; when you start to see that powdery white speckling on your cheese you can absolutely just cut the crust of it off and eat the rest, you don’t need to get rid of the whole piece. The same goes for fruit and veg, cutting the bruise off a banana, a little spot on a tomato or pepper or a slightly squishy bit of a cucumber, these things are all still good and yummy without their age spots. Meat or milk is where I’ll let you off, try to make sure you’re keeping an eye on the date on these though and both can go in the freezer if necessary.

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4. Storing your food

My mum has long sworn by Lakeland’s “stayfresh green bags” for increasing the longevity of fruit and vegetables in the fridge. As long as I can remember we’ve had a fridge full of bags for each type of vegetable. Although reusable for many years, these bags are made of polythene so a more sustainable alternative is the organic cotton bags like Vejibag (available on Amazon) although I must admit they don’t keep food fresh as long as the Lakeland ones, but if you plan like number 1 and 2 in this post then you shouldn’t need to keep things for weeks anyway 🙂

5. Donate

We’ve talked about fresh food, but not using cupboard groceries is equally naughty. I tend to do a “stock up” on things like beans, (especially black beans which are hard to find in anything other than the Sainsbury’s superstores), chickpeas, soups or peanut butter and whilst these things generally have long use by dates, and probably won’t go off long past this date you can always donate them if you can’t see yourself using them any time soon. Find your local foodbank through charities like The Trussell Trust.

As ever with discovering the best way to avoid waste, or be a little more sustainable in your daily life sharing is caring, so do let me know little tips,tricks or products that you’ve discovered on your way too!

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