Summer is right around the corner and with that comes all of those lovely days out. This could be in the park, by the beach, or at the end of a long walk! What’s better than having a nice picnic or barbecue on a warm summer day? But it’s important to remember the environmental impact of the subsequent food waste from these activities. So, take a look at the best and easiest ways to reduce your food waste this summer.
Environmental Impact of Our Household Food Waste
Did you know that food waste in landfills produces methane? Bacteria that breaks down the food releases the gas into the atmosphere. Methane is a more damaging greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide!
The food we eat also requires a lot of water to grow. That means when we waste food, we waste water. We also need a lot of fuel to transport the food we eat.
- 100 buckets of water to make a single loaf of bread for your yummy sandwiches.
- 54 buckets of water to raise a chicken for a grilled chicken breast.
- Six buckets of water to cultivate one potato for your chips.
- One bucket of water to grow one tomato (yay for efficiency!) on the vine.
Consider the land it takes to make our food and drink. The wasted food thrown away by UK households every year comes to 19,000 square kilometres. That’s more than twice the size of North Yorkshire. Even worse, our food waste rots in a landfill, which takes up even more precious land that could be used for growing food instead of wasting it.
If Britons stopped wasting food, we could keep at least 17 metric tonnes of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere. That’s like removing one in every five petrol-guzzling cars off of UK roads.
Eliminating All Food Waste Is Impossible
Don’t worry too much. Eliminating all food waste is impossible. Kids eat until they are full. Sometimes they don’t like the food you cooked. Spills happen.
But there are some things we can do to reduce food waste during the summer months.
Plan & Organise
Make a list of what foods everyone will bring to avoid buying too much food for your barbecue. This lets you serve the correct portions for everyone.
Let everyone know what the portions will be, such as one burger, one bun, and two slices of cheese. Your family won’t get tired of having barbecue leftovers all next week!
Purchase fresh fruits and vegetables rather than canned or frozen. There is less packaging involved. Rather than jarred condiments, use fresh herbs and spices like rosemary or oregano as toppings (your guests will love the flavours). Think about buying from sustainable food brands, too.
Eat less meat. Producing meat uses more energy, more water, and more resources compared to veg. Perhaps have a vegetarian barbecue?
Try, try, try to avoid using paper plates and napkins. If you do, at least buy paper items made from recycled materials or biodegrade easily. Otherwise, reusables are the way to go. Take a look at our tips on using no plastic for picnics to get some great ideas about avoiding disposable items!
Creatively Use Leftovers
Someone cancelled at the last minute, and now you have leftovers from your barbecue.
Rather than worry about the same old foods for the next four days, turn some of them into casseroles. Chop up the chicken, pork, or beef and mix them with noodles and cheese. Another option is fruit smoothies or ice lollies for the fruit salad leftovers. Lettuce and tomato toppings for burgers make great leafy salads when mixed with herbs and spices.
Use Apps to Find Opportunities
Download apps to give you great ideas on what to do with food waste after your picnic or barbecue. We have a few we think you’d like!
OLIO lets you give away excess food to people in your local community. If you have uneaten foods you don’t want to keep and they’re still good, help feed other families. OLIO puts you in touch with organisations that help feed others.
Too Good To Go is an app that connects you with local restaurants and cafes that have perfectly edible leftover food at the end of their business day. For a fraction of the cost, you can pick a to-go box of delicious food to eat the next day.
NoWaste scans your receipts and food barcodes to manage expiry dates. It gives you better meal planning for your family, and alerts you when certain foods will expire soon.
Nosh does something similar to NoWaste, only in a different way. It categorises foods by expiry date to give you meal plan ideas. For example, your bread and tomatoes expire in three days, so think about tomato sandwiches for lunch!
Follow Food Waste Influencers
Food waste influences can help you come up with great ideas for meals and reducing food waste at home.
Martyn O’Dell, AKA Lagom Chef, is a London-based developmental chef, content creator and simplifier of sustainability. He gives us practical tips for reducing food waste, something he practises every day.
Jill Fergus (@feedtheswimmers) gives you delicious recipes for all kinds of healthy dishes that use healthy foods without much food waste.
Emily Lemon (@emilylemonsqueezy) is a sustainable chef based in Brighton who grows her own food for her restaurant. She offers tips on how to grow your own food rather than buying it at the grocery store.
Kathryn Kellogg (@goingzerowaste) hosts the website Going Zero Waste, which is all about breaking down eco-friendly living into a simple step-by-step process filled with positivity and love.
Max La Manna (@maxlamanna) is a low-waste chef and cookery author. He posts some great innovative low-waste recipes and tutorials on his Instagram, so be sure to check it out.
Following food waste influencers can give you great tips on what to do with leftover parts of meals. They provide easy-to-follow recipes that can encourage anyone to get involved and create tasty food while minimising food waste.
Have Fun With No Food Waste This Summer!
As always, have fun with your food. When you have fun with no food waste, the lessons become memorable and you can stretch your imaginations with each meal. Have a contest to see which meal produces the least amount of food waste. Start composting to start a garden in your yard. Donate your compost to a farm. Get everyone in your family involved!
There are plenty of options for what you can do with your food waste (or lack thereof) this summer.
Happy sustainable living from Y’earn!
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