The average UK household wastes around £60 worth of food a month. That’s £720 a year. Most of the food we throw away could have been saved from the bin if we’d shopped and cooked smarter, and shared food that we weren’t able to eat.
What we eat also has an impact on the environment. A huge 25 per cent of global emissions come from food and more than half of this comes from animal products. Meat, especially beef and lamb, has a higher carbon footprint because of the land, water, and energy used to feed and rear animals and the emissions produced by animals during digestion.
Plan and shop smart
A minute of planning helps you to save food, time and money. Check your fridge and cupboards first and write a list and think about planning your meals. Only buy a deal if you can eat it, freeze or store it for later on - you can batch cook and freeze some meals as backups for a rainy day or take them for lunch. Try out wonky veg for a discount and buy loose items to only get the amount of food you need.
- NHS Easy Meals app is available on Google Play and App Store
Know your labels and store them right
Have you ever been confused about whether out of date food is still good to eat? You’re not alone. ‘Best before’ labels are about quality rather than safety, so food past its best before can still be good to eat for a while longer - just smell and taste it to be sure.
Use-by dates are about food safety, so keep an eye on those date labels and buy items that will last longer if you can’t eat them straight away. Remember freezing food is like pressing the pause button and storing food properly can make it last longer and taste better. Your freezer is your best friend - increased freezer use could save you up to £270 on food bills.
Eat less, better meat
Going veggie (and eating less meat, fish and dairy) is a great way to reduce your impact, but you don’t have to completely cut out meat to make a difference. Eating one less burger a week is the same as taking a car off the road for a whopping 320 miles.
Try the 5:2 approach where you eat meat twice a week and simply swap meat in your usual recipes for vegetables and grains. If you do buy meat, go for the best quality you can afford.
Eat sustainable seafood
The diversity of marine life is being eroded by overfishing but there are ways to keep our oceans alive. Make sure you choose fish that are sustainable and avoid endangered species such as Bluefin Tuna or Northsea Cod. Look for seafood products that carry either the MSC or ASC eco-labels.
Embrace the season
We can sometimes be used to buying food whenever we want. Yet when it comes to the environmental impact of a meal, eating more locally and seasonally produced food is a great way to reduce your carbon footprint.
Growing food out of season often requires energy-guzzling heated greenhouses to keep the conditions right. Food that can't be grown in the UK, such as bananas, will often have travelled from the other side of the world, which needs plenty of fuel and packaging to ship and store safely - all of which increase the impact of your food.
Grow your own
When growing your own food, your diet can be more diverse and healthy, packed with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Food in its rawest, freshest form is both tasty and nutritional.
Lots of produce sold in supermarkets go through a long process of being harvested, shipped and distributed to stores. Once distributed, the produce can end up staying in storage or on the shelf for an extended period of time before being purchased, losing nutritional value.
Growing your own food will also save you money - spending a few pounds on seeds, plants, and supplies in the spring will yield lots of fruit and vegetables in summer. Getting out in the garden also keeps you active and exposes you to vitamin D from the sun, which can help keep you healthier.
Cut down on food waste
If you’re going on holiday or have bought food that you won’t get around to eating, why not share it with your neighbours, local community or donate it to a foodbank?
Watch our Climate Conversations video on food
In this video, Councillor Tricia Ayrton visits the Petrus Community Incredible Edible garden.