Yay! Today is all about food and how to lower our impact by taking a look at our food choices. The great thing is… it is so easier to reduce your food waste. It saves money as well as saving on carbon footprint and it is a really enjoyable change to make.
This was among my musings the day I had one of the photo shoots for my book, Leftover Pie: 101 ways to reduce your food waste. I should have tidied my kitchen first!
Everyone has food waste. I have food waste. That’s not the problem.
The problem is how much food we waste and how we deal with this waste. That’s what we are going to fix today.The number 1 tip for reducing your food waste is cut down the amount you buy.
But how? This is not just about a simple action, but about a mind-set too.
In my book, Leftover Pie, I take a look at the psychology behind why we waste food. Doing this will help you identify your own reasons for why you might be wasting more food than you need to. Unless we look at this side of the food waste issue, we are likely to forget, ignore or procrastinate on the actions we read and learn about such as the top tips that are being shared during Zero Waste Week.
So step 1 in reducing your food waste…
Step 2 is to look at what you are wasting most. When I’m doing my Zero Waste talks and workshops people often tell me the thing they waste most is bread. But for me it used to be cheese. It wasn’t until I took the Zero Waste Week waste audit in 2013, that I realised this was a problem I needed to be aware of.
Step 3 – once you’ve thought about why you waste food, and what you waste most of, the next step is to get things back under control ready for the new you!
So often people tell me that they have a problem with things going out of date before they get a chance to use them. After a quick check of understanding of what I term “Confuse by” dates, my advice is generally to freeze things before they are going to go out of date. But the come-back is “but my freezer is full”!
So for my challenge to them…
Try and challenge yourself to buy no food all week, and get creative from what you have in your fridge first, then delve into your freezer and finally you cupboards. If you have to buy an onion or a tin of tomatoes, I’ll let you off! But otherwise, see what you can make with what you’ve got and then make room in your freezer so nothing need get wasted ever again because you’ve not used it before the “Use by” date. I’ve made up new recipes by doing this and of course it is great when you are short of money. You can make the most of what you’ve already spent instead of paying out more hard earned cash. This is a great thing to do at least once a year. I do it before going on holiday and I do it before Christmas too.
So, now you’re ready for the new you of naked shopping for local and seasonal foods. The Zero Waste challenge for today was to go off with your reusable bags and see if you can shop with no packaging. This naked shop was from back in 2014 just at my nearest supermarket.
The more we shop naked and shun unnecessary packaging, the easier it will become, because retailers big and small are always trying to find out what we want and give us what we want, because that’s how the sell. If people refuse to buy badly or over-packaged stuff suppliers will notice the drop in sales and they will respond with change. So, the more people who are prepared to walk away from a counter with an empty box if the person serving is not prepared to put your produce straight into your tub rather than the standard plastic or paper bag, the better. Retailers will get the message. The last time I did that, I walked into a shop across the road and they were more than happy to put my purchases straight into my tub. So of course they are the ones that get my business now!
Shopping plastic free can be frustrating at first, but my advice is to just go bit-by-bit, and a step at a time. Don’t beat yourself up for failures, just be on the look out for nice places to shop and eat that are plastic free and give them your business as much as you can. I’m lucky that I have found a lovely farm shop within a 5-minute walk of my house. I buy little and often and I take inspiration firstly from whatever says it’s from our village, then whatever I know is going to be most local.
I truly believe, local produce tastes better too!
My Zero Waste Week Day 2 pledge involves cheese! I examined the packaging of the cheese I bought in the market last week. I thought it was paper, but I found that it was lined with plastic. The good thing was that the two layers were easily separated so they could be recycled, but it made me think. Why haven’t I asked her to put the cheese straight into my tub? So next time I buy cheese, I will do just that!