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Blog Post 27 September 2018

Reduce food waste to save money and 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. Food prices have been rising steadily over the last few months, which makes thinking about how to reduce waste even more important for those of us who are watching our wallets.

In Scotland, we throw away around 70,000 tonnes of fresh fruit and vegetables, 39,000 tonnes of bakery products and 38,000 tonnes of home cooked and prepared meals a year  – and almost 50% of that is from people’s homes. You could save hundreds of pounds a year through reducing food waste. The careful approach of planning and managing your food stocks – much favoured by the wartime generation, is the way forward.

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.

Pilar Rodriguez, who administers the workshops on behalf of Zero Waste Scotland and Energy Saving Trust has the following advice we can all follow:

  1. 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.
  2. Keep an eye on the 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.
  3. Plan your meals: recipe planning means you buy more efficiently, as you’ve already worked out what you need.
  4. Freeze your food: you can freeze food at any time up to its use-by date, then use it within 24 hours after its defrosted again. You don’t have to freeze food as soon as you buy it. This is a great way of storing food if it’s about to go out of date.
  5. Get creative with leftovers: soups, curries, risottos and stir fries can all benefit from a few extra ingredients. You can find recipes on the Zero Waste Scotland, Love Food Hate Waste website.
  6. 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. Try out the Love Food Hate Waste portion calculator.

Recycle your food waste

Most of us, if we’re honest, 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, over-buying in the supermarket or swapping home-cooked meals for takeaways after a busy week at work. But food waste that ends up in landfill emits methane – a gas which is 25% more damaging than carbon dioxide.

While it might not seem like much, even throwing away the end of a loaf of bread each time will add up. More than 2 million slices of bread are binned every day in Scotland alone. And it’s not just bread, we’re throwing away dairy products, fruit and vegetables, and plenty of other products with short shelf lives.

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.

More on this…

Last updated: 6 November 2020