Monday, 6 September 2010

National Zero Waste Week

National Zero Waste Week

In case you didn't know today is the beginning of National Zero Waste Week.

This was started by 'Mrs Green' of My Zero Waste in 2008.

The idea is to encourage people to focus on the rubbish they create for a week and to consider if they could have avoided accumulating it in the first place or if it can be re-used or recycled.  The hope is that people will take a few better habits with them after the week is up.

To put it another way, it's reminding people to




This year 'Mrs Green' is encouraging us all to think about the food we waste.

According to the Love Food Hate Waste website, which is run by WRAP, a staggering 8.3 million tonnes of food is thrown away by households in the UK every year.* 

On average we are wasting £50 worth of the food we buy each month, which represents a hefty chunk of most people's food bills.  As some people are not wasting this much, then others are wasting more than £50 worth of food a month.

Not only is it costing us our hard-earned money, rotting food waste in landfill creates the greenhouse gas, methane, and so makes climate change worse.  In fact if we stopped wasting all this food it would reduce the UK's green house gas emissions just as much as it would if one in four cars were taken off our roads!

So, I'm sure you want to know how you can save yourself a lot of money and stop climate change from getting any worse by not buying food you will only throw away.

Here are my tried and tested tips for keeping food waste destined for landfill down to a minimum.

1. First of all, it helps a lot to plan your meals for at least the next few days.

2. Secondly, check the fridge, freezer and cupboards to see which ingredients you
already have.

3. Then make a list.  You may think it's old-fashioned, but it really is the best way.

4. Fourthly, don't be tempted by offers in the shop unless you can really use the items,concerned and it really will save you money.I would also suggest that you buy the best ingredients than you can afford, and as it is also Organic Fortnight, consider buying some organic food items.  These are probably better for you because they haven't been sprayed with potentially harmful chemicals, and good organic farming practices are certainly healthier for the environment, the thing we don't always notice, but which we depend on for our survival.

The other benefit of buying good quality ingredients is that because they cost a bit more we will be more committed to making the most of them.  I wonder if 'buy one get one free' offers encourage us to waste more food than we otherwise would.

5. It can also be helpful to buy food only for a few days in advance, if you often end up not making what you had planned due to a change in circumstances later in the week.

6. Check the sell by date is one you can work with.  No good buying mince for Friday's dinner if it's use by date is several days earlier.

I hope you are now inspired to cut back on food waste this week.  If so, go to 'Mrs Green's' National Zero Waste Week post and make a pledge, saying how you are going to do that.  You could win a prize!

'Mrs Green' has more tips to help you throw less food away here and here.

I've just looked at all the plastic wrapping in that photo which, it seems, is the only way supermarkets can distinguish organic and non-organic fruit and veg and, as it's also Organic Fortnight I've decided to try an organic veg box again.  I'll let you know what it's like when it turns up on Friday.

*According to this article in the New York Times Americans waste about a third (27%) of the food available for consumption, but this isn't just the food they take home, the waste starts in supermarkets and restaurants.  It seems we also waste around a third of our food here in the UK.

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