Wasting Food Feeds Climate Change

This year Brighton and Hove Food Partnership is launching a citywide food use campaign to highlight the impact of wasting food on climate change. Here’s why.

Did you know that throwing away food is one of the biggest contributors to climate change? Around 25-30% of global greenhouse gases are generated from food production but a third of all food produced is never eaten.

In the UK, most food waste – 70% – is wasted in our homes. Each year we chuck 4.5 million tonnes of edible food into our bins together with all the precious resources it took to produce and bring it to us. To appreciate the scale of that, in the UK alone, an area the size of Wales would need to be cleared to produce all the food we throw away.

The most commonly wasted foods include milk, bread, potatoes, tomatoes, bananas and poultry. To give one example, every day in the UK we throw out 20 million slices of bread, more than half a loaf per person. If we stopped wasting bread, the CO2 saved each year would be equal to more than half a million return flights from London to New York! If that’s not a fact to get you looking up a recipe for bread and butter pudding, I don’t know what is.

To highlight the environmental consequences of wasting food, this year Brighton and Hove Food Partnership have launched a citywide food use campaign to get us feeding bellies and not bins. It’s timely; this November the UK will host 26th United Nations Climate Conference, known as COP26, uniting the world to tackle climate change.

Food waste costs families £720 year

As well as being a significant contributor to global warming, wasting food costs us dearly; £720 a year on average for a family of four. It’s the equivalent of losing a whole bag of lovely food on a weekly shop.

Good news

But there is some good news. According to the waste advisory body WRAP, food waste reduced during the first Coronavirus lockdown. Being stuck at home made us look in our fridges more often and be more creative with our leftovers. Even the Great British Bake-off didn’t get us rummaging in our cupboards and knocking out banana bread quite like lockdown.

However, when restrictions were eased, our resolve weakened. Self-reported food waste went up by 30%, reversing our progress, though it remains below pre-lockdown levels. We just need to find ways to keep up the positive actions adopted during lockdown, and to help us WRAP have launched a new campaign called Keep Crushing It.

Here are 3 easy tips that can make a big difference to the amount of food wasted in the home.

  1. Make a shopping list and meal plan before you shop. It’s never a good idea to go shopping when hungry as you tend to buy more than you need.
  2. Chill the fridge out. Your fridge will keep food safer for longer if set between 2 and 5 degrees.
  3. Freeze leftovers and things typically wasted like bread and milk. Food can be frozen right up to its ‘use by’ date. Make sure your freezer is below -18 degrees.

Food Waste Action Week

The first week of March (1st -7th) will see the first ever national Food Waste Action Week launched by WRAP. Brighton and Hove Food Partnership will be organising citywide activities to get us loving, sharing and saving our food during that week.

We’ve put together some handy tips and advice to help you to reduce food waste in the home and in your business.

Can you help us get the city united around tackling food waste by sharing this blog and joining in the conversation with us on social media? Follow us at @btnhovefood and share your food use tips and leftover recipes.

If you’re part of a local organisation, business or community group and you would like to help our campaign contact ali@bhfood.org.uk.

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