Jaynehowarth’s Weblog

Journalist and writer

Waste not, want not. The diary of a throwaway foodie

with 3 comments

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.


Written by CommonPeople

January 9, 2009 at 3:49 pm

3 Responses

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  1. My (very organised) friend made an inventory of everything in the cupboard and freezer in order to actually use all of those hoarded things. She plans meals for the week ahead (which to begin with included interesting things due to odd tins of whatnot and bits in the freezer). She says it’s a bit boring but they’ve cut down on their wastage massively because they only buy what’s needed for the planner.

    I mentioned to you on Twitter that you can use a bokashi bin to compost cooked food including meat (raw or cooked). It won’t take a lot of liquid (like soup or sauces) but everything else can go in there. Then once it’s fermented it can be added to your composter and will help to accelerate the rest of your composting. Very distinct odour though that I can stomach but Mr Creative has terrible problems with. Oh you can even put in cat and dog food, biscuits, hair, teabags, dust and usual compostable stuff.

    So not the yogurt or egg but everything else would go in (providing you took the sweetcorn and pineapple out of the tin of course). Pitta, cake, ham, crisps – all bokashi fodder (but you may need to break into smaller pieces to help it work).

    But cutting comsuption of goods has to be a better solution every time.


    January 9, 2009 at 5:17 pm

  2. I also make a list every week of food we need and plan menus. V Laborious and tedious at times, but it is owrth it. Trouble is, you don’t always want the meal you planned five days after you have bought all the stuff. Tricky one!
    I like the idea of a Bokashi,as it would definitely reduce the items that go into landfill, but my main goal is to reduce the amount of food that I throw away.


    January 10, 2009 at 8:49 am

  3. Not sure if you are aware of:

    All useful stuff.

    (and she’s Welsh – tidy!)

    Paul Groves

    January 13, 2009 at 3:35 pm

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