Jaynehowarth’s Weblog

Journalist and writer

Posts Tagged ‘waste

A better fortnight for food management

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Yoghurt. That’s my problem.
We eat stacks of it in this house and then, for reasons unknown, we just stop. But I keep buying it. And it goes off.
It’s been one of those fortnights: one of those “don’t fancy yoghurt” at any meal. Which means one litre of Greek yoghurt has glugged down the sink. At least I can recycle the tubs.
Apart from that, it has been a fairly good two weeks when it comes to food wastage.
Apart from the one litre of Greek yoghurt, I’ve only thrown away a large floret of broccoli and a couple of apples (and they went into the compost bin). I reckon that’s just about £2 worth.
The kerbside recycling bin is chockablock every two weeks with plastic, paper, tins, Tetra packs, cardboard and so on, while we average about 15 litres of landfill rubbish.
I think I’m getting better at food management – but no rosette yet. I’ve got about six overripe bananas that need to be made into a cake. And it should have made done a couple of days ago.

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Written by CommonPeople

February 28, 2009 at 4:59 pm

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Am I winning the battle against waste?

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I can see the disappointment in your eyes; I’m sorry, I’m sorry.
I was meant to write a weekly blog post about my food disposal habits. My excuse is that I went away and the hotel’s wifi connection was down.
So, instead I have collated two weeks’ worth of rubbish (literally!) and put them together in one post.
After week four’s glowing report of a satisfyingly empty bin, this past fortnight sees me a little more circumspect.
As I suspected, week four was a blip, but I still think I’m doing well, even though the time has not been set aside to polish my halo.
However, the freezer is fuller than normal because I have made a concerted effort to save any leftovers that can be reused, turn stale bread into breadcrumbs and made sure anything close to its use by date that isn’t going to be consumed is packed up and sent to cold storage for another day if it can be, of course. Some things can’t, of course.
Last week (week five) it was fruit and vegetables that let me down – or, more accurately, we didn’t eat enough of them, so they go off. It’s incredibly soul-destroying to see fresh items deteriorate as they lay uneaten, their destiny only for the compost bin.
This week (week six), it’s dairy produce that has been left in the fridge to grow into something beardy and horrid that has let me down.
On the up side, our new recycling regime – introduced by the local authority has meant I have a very full 160litre bin of recyclable items and just a 30litre bag of rubbish destined for the landfill.
So the two week tally of thrown away food is as follows:
Banana*
5 apples*
5 potatoes*
Two home-grown parsnips*
Three home-grown beetroot*
Satsuma
1 ½ packs of shiitake*
Entire tub of Quark
300ml crème fraiche
1/3 pint of skimmed milk
*= composted
That comes to about £4.70’s worth of food thrown away– not too bad over a fortnight, I guess, but I still have the magical goal of NOTHING being chucked out over a prolonged period. Soon? Fingers crossed…

Written by CommonPeople

February 13, 2009 at 1:20 pm

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Diary of a throwaway foodie: week 3

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Another week of shame, but I have noticed a pattern developing already with my throwaway food habits.

This is the third week of tracking the food that I throw away and it is developing into an obsession. There is much heart-searching when I chuck something out that could have been used if it weren’t for the fact that I was too lazy to do anything with it.

As much as anything, it’s what to include and not include in the list. The crusts from the children’s packed lunches? No. But uneaten yoghurts, yes, because they couldn’t be eaten after hours in a bag in an overheated classroom.

The leftovers on the dinner plate or in the breakfast bowl? No, because they couldn’t be reused anyway. But extra portions of dinner that have to be chucked out after a day because no one could be bothered to cover it up and stick it in the fridge? Yes, because it is wasteful.

The beginning of the week is efficient food-wise with very little being discarded, which is great. It seems to be Throwaway Thursday when it goes wrong: when you realise that there is little left in the fridge before the weekend shop and what is left is out of date.

I have noticed that I am eating more leftovers: whether or not that has an impact on my waistline is something I’ll have to watch out for. Am I eating more just so I don’t add it to my list? That is a possibility, but it isn’t deliberate, perhaps subconscious (well it was, until I thought about it. It’ll be a deliberate choice now, of course).

Part of this self-inflicted challenge was to look at the amount of rubbish I threw away, too, although it is very much a minor walk-on role. However, only one full bag of refuse was collected by the bin men this week (I didn’t put in the half used bag), which means that only 30 litres of unrecyclable waste has gone to the landfill.

I was very excited to receive a new bin this week (my life is not one great long party!), which means that the local authority will soon be changing its doorstep recycling collection to include yoghurt pots, Tetra packs, plastics, plastic bags, cardboard and greetings cards alongside the usual paper, glass and tins.

But, to the main point, which is my food shame. Here it is:

A half tub of vegetarian pate

Full pack of coriander*

125g of cottage cheese

Half a pint of skimmed milk

One mango

2 Frube yoghurts (should have frozen them and forgot)

Half a small tub of creamed cheese

3 pots of fruit yoghurt

One-quarter of a white loaf

Three lollipops (junk!)

Six small chocolate bars that no one liked (part of a raffle prize at Christmas)

Comic pear*

(*denotes it was composted).

I’ve totted this grand list to about £4.80. I’ve not included the sweets as we didn’t buy them. Over a year that would be £249.60, so about the same as last week.

Despite my efforts, I’m not improving at all. Time to think of a new strategy for next week!

Written by CommonPeople

January 23, 2009 at 3:20 pm

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The throwaway foodie – week 2

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Another week and another load of food goes to waste in my household.

thought I’d done quite well this week, but the results below speak for themselves.

The previous post explains what I’m doing, but basically, I am tracking all the food that goes to waste in my house that should have been used.

It might be that fruit has rotted when it could have been eaten (obviously) or turned into something else; yoghurts that should have been consumed before the use-by date; or anything that could have been wrapped up to munch on at a later time.

It’s something I’ve had a bee in my bonnet for a long time, but have decided to do something about it now.

This week my attention was drawn to http://www.therubbishdiet.co.uk/, which is an inspirational read and will ensure that my drive to produce less waste every week will happen.

 It made me realise that while my efforts were laudable, they were way off what I could be doing. Admittedly I was a little despondent at first when I read Almost Mrs Average’s posts from Bury St Edmunds. She is almost gaining superhuman qualities when it comes to disposal of waste, but I am determined to slim my bin.

The great news this week was that neighbouring streets have started to receive their new small capacity bins from the local council, which means our old bins can soon be used for doorstep cardboard and plastics recycling. It might mean my garage will be clear (ish).

I’ve annoyed myself this week, however, my throwing away food that was grown on our allotment. As far as I’m concerned that is unforgiveable: waste of time and effort (by the man of the house) and a waste of food.

So, this week’s list of shame is:

Half a pack of cherry tomatoes*

Carrot*

Half  a bag of potatoes*

Large cabbage (from the allotment)*

Two-thirds of a jar of horseradish sauce

One large homemade pizza (it should have been covered up and eaten for lunch. One hundred lazy points and a big red FAIL for me).

Five Santa biscuits (left mouldering in the back of a cupboard)

Two small pots of yoghurt

Two-thirds of a large pot of yoghurt.

(*denotes that it was composted.)

I have made a conservative estimate about the money I’ve essentially incinerated and it’s about £4.50. I’ve not counted the cabbage from the allotment. Over a year that would £234, which is way below average (Government figures put that at about £420). But it is more than last week – and who wouldn’t rather have that £234 in their pocket than on the composter or in the landfill?

The challenge this week is to use the celery I bought for a recipe that required just one stick. I’m adamant I won’t let the rest rot in the fridge.

And I must try harder next week. Onwards and upwards!

 

Written by CommonPeople

January 16, 2009 at 11:32 am

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

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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

World Toilet Day

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It’s World Toilet Day today. Happy World Toilet Day!

 

But before we start groaning about “yet another day for this and that” or stifle a sniggering comment about such days being “at your convenience” or it being a “flush in the pan” there is a serious message.

 

The day has been launched by the World Toilet Organisation to remind we westerners that some 2.6 billion people across the world have no sanitisation: no access to a loo at home or in their community.

 

This lack of facilities has appalling consequences: five million children die every year from diarrhoea and other diseases for the want of basic hygiene. It is startling to realise that if children’s faeces were disposed of safely, we could reduces the incidences of childhood diarrhoea by 40 per cent.

 

There are environmental concerns, too: while more than one billion people are served by sewerage systems, but much of it is discharged into rivers, lakes and the sea with little or no treatment.

 

Every year, 200 million tons of human waste remains uncollected and untreated around the world, which not only fouls waterways and the land, but exposes millions of people to diseases.

 

The WTO, a global non-profit organisation, was founded in 2001 and focuses solely on improving sanitation and toilets. There are now 151 member organisations in 53 countries which are committed to ensuring clean facilities are available for all.

 

But it isn’t just poor countries where toilet hygiene is important. In the UK, campaigns have been launched to increase the number of conveniences.

 

Since 2000, about 16 per cent of public loos have closed – because local authorities are no longer required to provide. This may change, as some MPs are demanding that the Government orders councils to provide facilities.

Some councils may find it cheaper to pay shops etc to open their toilets to the public than reinstate toilets that they have to maintain and clean. In Richmond upon Thames, for example, 69 restaurants, pubs, shops and offices are paid £600 every year to allow the general public to use their toilets.

 

All very well, but remember this: complacent attitudes towards hygiene lead to disease.

 

Astonishingly, one in six adults has admitted to not washing their hands after they have been to the toilet.

 

This means germs from the toilet can easily spread from hands into the food we eat – and that leads to gastrointestinal infections.

 

And if you do wash your hands, it is important that they are dried properly, too as wet hands pick up more germs than dry ones.

 

According to the Royal Society for Public Health, hand washing and drying could reduce up to half of all acute respiratory infections in this country, which would lead to an £80 million saving on GP consultations every year.

 

Makes you think, doesn’t it?

 

Stats to make you think:

 

On average, one house produces more than one tonne of faeces every year (Water Aid)

 

One gram of human faeces can contain 10,000,000 viruses, 1,000,000 bacteria, 1000 parasite cysts, 100 parasite eggs. (UNICEF)

 

Hand-washing with soap after using a toilet can reduce the incidence of diarrhoea by up to 47 per cent (UN)

 

884 million people do not have access to safe water

 

60 milllion children are born every year into households that have no hygiene facilities

 

The average European uses 200 litres of water every day (Americans, 400 litres). In the developing world, the average person uses ten litres per day for washing, cleaning, cooking and drinking. (Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council).