We waste 1.3 billion tonnes of food each year. Here's how to do your part to slash those numbers.
By Siti Rohani
Food waste is a big problem around the world. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, roughly one-third of all the food produced in the world, or 1.3 billion tonnes, gets lost or wasted annually.
Australia’s Department of Environment and Energy estimate food waste to cost the Australian economy around $20 billion each year, with Aussies throwing away around 3.1 million tonnes of food annually.
And it’s just as serious in our part of the world. Studies have shown that Singapore households get rid of S$200 million (US$149 million) worth of food waste a year. Across the Causeway in Malaysia, a report has revealed that Malaysians waste 15,000 tonnes of food a day, of which 3000 tonnes is still edible – that’s enough to feed two million people.
A partnership between the Waste Management Institute of New Zealand, (WasteMINZ), the Ministry for the Environment and 59 councils around the country has estimated New Zealand households threw away 122,547 million tonnes of food annually, adding up to some NZ$872 million.
Those numbers are mind-boggling!
While we can’t solve the issue of food waste overnight, there are small steps we can take to play our part.
Here are 5 simple tips:
1. Buy only what you need
This might seem obvious but it is one of the reasons why we’re left with so much food waste.
We go overboard buying groceries that we end up not eating and just throwing away.
This happens a lot with fresh produce, such as vegetables and fruits.
By the time we notice them again in the fridge, they may have gone bad.
So make a grocery list and stick with it, and if you stray, make sure you use up the items asap.
2. Do a regular fridge audit
Go through the items in your fridge at least once a week to see what’s nearing their best-by date.
Vegetables that look like they’ve seen better days can be made into a simple stir fry, or even stock.
Bread that’s a few days old can be made into a sandwich for tomorrow’s lunch
3. Save your leftovers
When eating out in restaurants, always ask to pack whatever food you didn’t finish.
This can make a great snack for later, and will save it from just being thrown away.
Here’s an extra tip: you might want to get the servers to pack half your portion the moment it’s served. This way, you also won’t end up overeating.
4. Store newer items at the back of the fridge
Whenever you’re back with a new batch of groceries, place the new items at the back of the fridge and the older ones at the front so you’re constantly reminded of what you need to use up first.
5. Donate to food banks
If you have canned foods that are close to their expiry dates but you’re sure you won’t be consuming them any time soon, why not donate them to the food bank?
A quick search online can get you the information of the nearest food bank or volunteer centre in your area.
Give them a call and find out if they’ll accept your items.