Sustainable living: 3 practical tips to combat food waste

Sustainable living: 3 practical tips to combat food waste

One of the most annoying things in a supermarket is food that is being sold in quantaties that are too big. Quantaties of which you already know for sure that there will be something left over that you don't use. Endive, kale or potatoes for example. You cook your meal and you just know that there will be some left when you're done and that you will not use everything for your meal. Now I usually keep my leftovers neatly in the fridge, but I regularly throw something away. But it's time to change that behaviour. Would you also like to waste less food? Then read on for my 3 practical tips to prevent food waste.

Food waste in the Netherlands

Together we waste 2 billion kilos of food per year in the Netherlands. Samen Tegen Voedselverspilling (the foundation Together against Food Waste) has created a confrontational comparison for this; 2 billion killos is a traffic jam from Utrecht to Barcelona with bumper-to-bumper trucks full of food.

About 23 to 32% of total food waste is caused by consumers. This means that we Dutch waste an average of 34 kilos per year on solid food. All in all, about 9.5% of the food we buy (Source: Voedingscentrum). Think of bread, dairy, vegetables, fruit and potatoes that are thrown away. That is not only a waste of food and your euros, but it also has a huge negative effect on the environment.

What is the negative effect of food waste?

Food waste has a major effect on our climate and greenhouse gas emissions. In Europe, food waste is responsible for no less than 6% of total greenhouse gas emissions (from human activities). And that while it is actually very simple to make some adjustments in your daily life so that that percentage can go down. By wasting less, we also need to produce less and use less agricultural land, water and energy.

By combating waste, we can not only reduce our emissions, but it also contributes to a food production system with enough food for everyone (Source: Samen Tegen Voedselverspilling). Because until now, food waste has mainly been a problem in the richer countries where food is abundant.

What can you do?

All the facts and figures about food waste are interesting, but how do you really take action? What can you do yourself and is it practically feasible? I have 3 tips for you that can help with that!

  • Buy what you need

An advice for the last minute shopper; in our household we make a weekly 'breakfast-lunch-dinner planning' and we order our groceries online based on a shopping list. By means of a shopping list you actually do little or no impulse purchases because you know exactly what you need. And that also saves money! In addition, say no more often to that supposedly nice 1+1 offer at the supermarket. Because no matter how loud the offer screams, you too know deep down that you don't always need it.

  • Save leftovers

I am a big fan of storing leftovers. In our family we usually cook too much, so that we can have it for lunch the next day. And since I eat gluten and dairy free myself, this is ideal. I prefer to keep leftovers in one of our Mepal bowls and any cut vegetables in a Food Hugger. If you have too many leftovers or if you prefer to eat something else for lunch, see if you can keep the leftovers in the freezer. And if your freezer is full, organize a 'leftover' supper. It also saves you time!

  • Be creative

Do you have half a tomato and onion left? Add a zucchini, some herbs and lentil spaghetti and you'll have a tasty meal in no time. The trick is to be creative with the food you have left over or in the pantry. Also, don't just throw away food without smelling and tasting it after the best before date has passed. With me, the rule was "if it's past the date, it has to go", so I had to get used to this myself, but there is a good chance that you can still use the product. And when a product's use-by date is approaching and you're not using it, put it in the freezer for later.

Live more consciously

After writing this blog I also learned a bit more about food waste and I realize how easy it actually is to be a bit more aware of this. Most of us think of ourselves that we don't waste that much, but the reality is actually quite disappointing.

To inspire you, I have put together a few gift boxes with products that can lend a helping hand in combating food waste. You can find them in the Earth Friendly Start and What’s Cooking collections. Which advice do you find most practical and useful?