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Blog Post 31 August 2021 Updated 31 March 2022

How reducing food waste can help the environment

Home economics is making a comeback. Behaving in a more sustainable way around food can help your budget, as well as the environment.

We waste an estimated 1.3 billion tonnes of food every year – around one third of all food produced for human consumption. This scale of food waste leads to habitat destruction, decreased biodiversity and overuse of land and water.

To combat the climate emergency and help protect our environment, we all need to reduce the amount of food we waste.

Take our quiz to find out how well you know your food waste facts.

Help to reduce food waste

If you’re in Scotland, employers can sign up to a Love Food Hate Waste workshop. Delivered by Energy Saving Trust on behalf of Zero Waste Scotland, these Scottish Government-funded workshops are free and take place in the workplace.

They contain practical and impartial advice on making the most of what’s left in the cupboard, and include useful, tasty recipes for using leftovers. Learning how to reduce food waste at home can empower people to reduce waste at work too.

Our simple advice could help you reduce how much food you throw away.

  • 01

    Get to know your kitchen cupboards

    Keeping track of what you’ve got in already means you’re less likely to buy food you don’t need.

  • 02

    Keep an eye on use by and best before labels

    Remember ‘best before’ is about quality, you can safely use food after this date if it looks and smells okay but ‘use by’ means just that – don’t use the food after this date.

  • 03

    Plan your meals

    Recipe planning means you buy more efficiently, as you’ve already worked out what you need.

  • 04

    Freeze your food

    You can freeze food at any time up to its use by date, then use it within 24 hours after it’s defrosted again. You don’t have to freeze food as soon as you buy it.

  • 05

    Get creative with leftovers

    Soups, curries, risottos and stir fries can all benefit from a few extra ingredients. You can find recipes on the Love Food Hate Waste website.

  • 06

    Aim for perfect portions

    You can use scales or measuring spoons to follow recipes. If you cook too much, freeze the leftovers or eat them for lunch the next day.

Recycle your food waste

Most of us have on occasion thrown out food. Two thirds of what we throw away could’ve been used if we’d managed it better. It can be a combination of not paying attention to use by dates, buying too much in the supermarket, or swapping home-cooked meals for takeaways.

But when food breaks down at landfill sites, it releases harmful greenhouse gases like methane into the atmosphere. Around 8-10% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions relate to food waste. If food waste were a country, it would be the third biggest emitter of greenhouse gases, behind the US and China.

If you do have to throw away food waste, try to recycle it. If you live in an area with a local food waste recycling collection service, you can use this to recycle anything you can’t eat or compost at home. Some local councils will provide a food recycling facility and other areas will have private operators that will collect food waste – check with your local council for details.

Last updated: 31 March 2022