Waste not, want not. The diary of a throwaway foodie
I am wasteful. There. I said it.
Despite having similar genetic tendencies to Scrooge at times, I do find that I throw a lot of food away that I should have used – or, with a bit of care, made into something delicious.
Instead, yoghurts, vegetables and other fresh produce deteriorate away in the fridge and cupboards, only to re-emerge in a state quite different from when it went in.
It’s a waste. And I’m fed up of it.
According to WRAP, households across the UK throw away 6.7 million tonnes of food – that’s about one-third of the food we buy. That’s a hell of a lot of meals.
On its website, WRAP (wrap.org.uk) says:
“The environmental costs of food waste are enormous. It is estimated that 20% of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions are associated with food production, distribution and storage. If we stopped wasting food that could have been eaten we could prevent at least 15 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions each year. The majority of these emissions are associated with embedded energy but a significant proportion arises as a result of food waste going to landfill sites. Once in landfill food breakdown produces methane – a greenhouse gas 25 times more powerful than carbon dioxide.”
It has been campaigning for a while to get us to reduce the amount of food we chuck away and while I’ve been aware of it and have always striven to minimise waste, it just doesn’t happen.
That piece of bread crust that never gets eaten? Sometimes I’ll turn it into breadcrumbs and stick it in the freezer. Sometimes it goes on the bird table. Occasionally, it has become so mouldy that it goes in the bin.
Bananas that have become too ripe to eat? I know I could whip up my easy banana cake in a few minutes, but sometimes I cannot be bothered. The only thing that gets fed, then, is my garden composter.
Oranges that have been in the fruit basket too long? Yum – nice, home made orange juice. No – usually in the bin (not always the composter because of the acidity).
Oh, yes, I do recycle. Cardboard, plastic and Tetra packs are taken to the local municipal tip; the local authority collects paper, bottles and cans; I send my dead batteries to a special recycling plant (I’ve been meaning to buy rechargeable for years…) and veg and fruit peelings/mouldering vegetables/tea bags, coffee grounds are sent to the three composting bins in my garden.
When my children were babies I used washable nappies.
I’ve managed to cut down on the amount of waste that goes into the landfill by half – there are usually two 30 litre bin bags in my bin a week (and that’s for a family of four).
All this is very laudable, but I’m not ready to polish my halo just yet.
I still throw away too much food. Which is not just a waste of food, but money.
Now we are at the nub of it. Last year, a government study found that surplus food that was thrown away added £420 a year to our food bills.
The Cabinet Office report said the average UK household threw away £8 of leftovers a week.
In an effort to stop being wasteful, I’m naming and shaming myself.
I am going to write a blog post every week about every morsel of food that I throw away and could have used.
There may not be many readers to this exciting diary entry, but it’ll be there, potentially, for all to see and view my shame.
Hopefully, the list of discarded items will decrease and I will be able to work out each month how much I could have saved if I hadn’t bought it or if I’d used it properly.
So, the list of shame for this week is:
One out of date egg;
250ml of pineapple juice
100g of tinned sweetcorn
half a large pot of natural yoghurt
two half packs of celery (should have gone in the compost but I couldn’t bear to get them out of the wrapper, so went in the bin. FAIL)
a Frube yoghurt
two mini pittas
two slices of Quorn ham
half a pack of pre-packed salad (bad enough buying it in the first place) and a handful of grapes (in the compost bin)
half a pack of Walker’s cheese and onion crisps
1 mini Yulelog cake bar.
I reckon that comes to about £3.50 worth of food which, over a year, would equate to £182 – about two weeks’ worth of shopping. We’ll see how I get on.