No one wants to waste food and most of us like to think we are not wasting too much; however, we all may be wasting more than we think. Studies* show that food waste is costing Australian households a significant amount of money with the average person throwing out $18 of food each week. For a household, it is estimated that food waste may cost up to $2,500 each year.
When we waste food, we not only waste our money. We also waste all the water, energy, labour, packaging and other resources that went into producing the food.
In Australia, it is estimated that $36 billion of food is wasted each year and, households are the single greatest source of this waste. Council’s review of waste in our red bins shows, on average, households in the Lithgow Local Government Area are throwing away more than 3kgs of food in their red bin each week. This adds up to over 160kgs of food being wasted in the red bin from each household, each year.
Wasting food harms the environment, too. Food that is put into the red bin ends up in landfill where it is compacted and buried. In landfill, oxygen is not available for the natural composting process to take place so food rots slowly and emits methane gas. Methane gas is a greenhouse gas that has a warming effect some 25 times greater than carbon dioxide.
The good news is that simple steps have been shown to make a big difference to household food waste.
The main causes of food waste are buying too much, cooking too much, not storing food correctly and just not using food up. Here’s five actions to reduce food waste:
- Check what you have got before you shop and make a list of what you need,
- Only purchase items on your list, in the quantities that you need,
- Store food carefully,
- Plan to use fresh food first and any leftovers at the next meal, and
- Make a ‘use it first’ spot in your fridge and pantry so everyone can find the food that needs to be consumed fast.
No one wants to waste food but, in our homes, we may be wasting more than we think so try some simple steps to reduce food waste, save money and help the environment.
*Fight Food Waste Cooperative Research Centre. June 2021. Australian household food waste. A summary of behaviours, attitudes, perceived and actual food waste.
Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water. 31 July 2023. Reducing Australia’s food waste. Accessed 20 November 20, 2023. https://www.dcceew.gov.au/environment/protection/waste/food-waste.