Our global wastage epidemic has been the topic of much discussion lately (thank goodness!) but, as with all conversations about really, really big issues, it can be hard to know how you can make an impact at home – or whether you even can.
Turns out, there are a tonne of small things you can do in your own home that can help make a big difference globally. But first, it helps to know what we’re up against.
According to the Centre for Organic Research and Education (CORE) Australia currently generates around 50 million tonnes of waste every year – and of this, 7.6 million tonnes is food waste.
The ABC’s recent series, ‘War on Waste’, also revealed that Australia is one of the most wasteful countries in the developed world – the waste we generate every year is growing at twice the rate of our population.
The average Australian family throws out over $3.5k worth of food every year, and a fifth of all of the food we buy ends up getting thrown out. Australia produces enough food every year to feed around 60 million people, yet we produce 3.3 million tonnes (enough to fill the MCG six times!) of food waste annually – 2.6 million of that comes from households. And we’re still not convinced that what we do at home can make a difference?
When it comes to fighting food waste, it truly is a case of ‘think global, act local’. There are a few (relatively easy!) steps we can all take in our day-to-day lives that will help make a big, real world impact.
- Toss your own: compost and worm farms are a fantastic way to repurpose your produce when it’s no longer edible, and there are a bunch of different ways you can go about setting them up! Whether you’re making a worm farm or buying a small compost bin, having somewhere to chuck your food waste will make a huge difference – just remember to put rotten food into the compost as soon as possible, to prevent contaminating other foods! For more tips on how to set up your compost (and keep it from getting too stinky) check out the Brisbane Government’s handy guide: www.brisbane.qld.gov.au
- Grow your own: “You don’t need to be a farmer either to grow fresh food,” explains Eric Love, CEO of CORE. “Every backyard at home is also a potential productive urban farm. We can all enjoy healthy, locally grown food, reduce waste and close the loop on food waste by turning it into compost. There is a clear link between high quality food and reducing food waste going to landfill.” For tonnes of tips on growing your own produce, plus a bunch of other info about ways you can fight food waste, check out Local Harvest: www.localharvest.org.au
- Pick the perfectly imperfect: countless fruits and veggies are tossed before they even hit grocery stores due to ‘cosmetic standards’ of some businesses. In ‘War on Waste’ one example that’s given are bananas – one big supermarket chain specified that they be “slightly arched with a blunt end” to meet their standards for sale. So, if you see a funny-looking fruit or a misshapen veggie, buy it! You’ll be showing supermarkets that it’s what’s on the inside that counts.
- Meal plan: it sounds simple, but taking stock of what you’ve got and being careful about what you buy can make a massive difference! Remember how we told you that one-fifth of the food we buy ends up in the bin – that’s one out of the five shopping bags that you usually fill up in your grocery shop! OzHarvest.com has some great tips for managing what goes in and out of your fridge and pantry: www.ozharvest.org
- Store it properly: invest in some good, airtight containers or some fresh produce bags that are designed to keep food looking and tasting its best for as long as possible and, when food is close to its use-by date, freeze it! Also, educate yourself about the best places to store your fruits and veggies – while some might thrive in the crisper, others are better in cool, dry environments. This article is a great start: www.popsugar.com