Do you love food and hate waste?
We’re concerned about what we eat and how much we eat but how many of us really care about how much food is wasted? A survey by the Australia Institute in November 2009 found that Australian households are throwing out more than $5 billion worth of food each year. It’s a staggering figure when you consider that it’s the amount needed to run the entire Australian army.
It seems that while supermarkets are responding to our needs to improve the whole supermarket experience by improving their displays and selling more fresh market produce, once it’s home there it stays, lurking in the fridge until, limp and dishevelled, it ends up in the bin to eventually become part of a much bigger problem – landfill. Almost half of all municipal waste is comprised of organic material, most of which is household rubbish. Converted to methane gas, which has a much larger global warming potential than CO2, according to the survey, household waste across Australia can be conservatively estimated to be responsible for 5.25 Mt CO2 emissions. It’s a rate of pollution similar to the total emissions involved in the manufacture and supply of iron and steel in Australia.
Cost of food waste in Australia
|Waste per household||$678||$643||$641||$619||$560||$545||$517||$616|
|Waste per person||$262||$250||$249||$238||$214||$226||$213||$239|
The worst offenders
Less motivated by the hard to earn dollar, the high-income earners throw the most out. With the exception of Victoria*, whose high income earners have less food waste, Australian households earning more than $80,000 a year are wasting $803 in food annually. This compares with food waste of $635 a year for households with an income between $40,000 and $80,000. Households with an income less than $40,000 a year waste $518 a year. The number of householders also bears a relation to food waste with single householder wasting the most compared with households of four or more wasting the least.
*Victorian households with an income greater than $80,000 report a comparatively low rate of food waste ($444 per person).
5 ways to reduce food waste
Being aware of the problem is the first step towards reducing food waste. The survey found that people were most motivated by saving dollars however it may be that the high earners and single dwellers will have to be moved by a social conscience.
Shop more often and buy less
With self-serve scanners, and 12 items or less checkouts, the trip to the supermarket doesn’t have to be a long drawn out experience. Check your pantry and fridge before you go out to see what you already have and only buy what you need.
Store your food properly
Stock up on plastic airtight containers and snap lock bags to store opened goods and fresh produce. Less exposure to oxygen will extend the shelf life of your food.
Compost your green waste or use it in a worm farm
Even if you don’t have a garden and space for a compost or worm farm, a small bokashi bucket on your kitchen bench top will turn kitchen waste into rich soil conditioner for your indoor plants. It will degrade much faster with less to no impact on the environment. For more information on bokashi boxes see http://www.bokashi.com.au.
For more information on food waste visit www.lovefoodhatewaste.nsw.gov.au