Image Credit: Edgar Castrejon
According to The Food Standards Agency, 7 million tonnes of wasted food is thrown away in the UK every year, at an estimated cost per household of £470.
Yet the majority of this food could have been eaten, so what can we do to bring this figure down?
The most important way to reduce this figure is by reducing the amount of waste food each of us produces.
Firstly, you can reduce the amount of food that you waste by only buying the amount of food that you actually need. However tempting that BOGOF offer might seem, you don't save money if you buy food that just ends up going in the bin.
You can reduce the amount of waste by:-
There is lots of information available for learning about using up leftover food.
The first place you should visit is the Love Food Hate Waste website which is produced by The Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP). It has lots of excellent articles about how to avoid food waste, from how to measure out the correct portions of food, how to understand food date labelling and lots of recipes for using up your leftovers.
There will always be some leftovers, whether it be potato peelings, used teabags or that tiny bit that could not be eaten.
Much of the food waste that currently goes to landfill could have been composted. Any cooked or raw vegetable and fruit matter can be composted, so that includes apple cores, banana skins, potato peelings, onion skins and even your limp lettuce and squashy tomatoes (mind you I always chop up and hide sad-looking salad in casseroles). You can also compost eggshells and the shells of nuts.
Many local councils offer composters at very compettive rates to residents, or you can see the different types of composters here.
Image Credit: Steve Buissinne
Like many people, I assumed for a very long time that teabags were still made from paper and so were completely biodegradable.
The vast majority of teabags sold in the UK include some nylon in the the material of the bag, which means that they will not break down when composted. The best thing to do is to split open the bags (when the teabag has cooled down of course!) remove the leaves and throw away the bag in your household waste.
If you don't want to do that you could, of course, start using loose tea in an old fashioned teapot, or use an infuser.
This shocking article by green blogger Linday Miles of Treading My Own Path describes her investigations into just how many brands of teabag contain plastic. Although she lives in Australia the brands are nearly all those available in the UK.
Meat, fish and dairy items cannot go into an ordinary compost heap. They will not break down and will probably attract vermin. So what can you do with the rest?
Most local councils now collect food scraps as part of their household recycling collections. If your council does this they will provide you with a kitchen caddy to save your scraps in, and some councils may also accept food waste in their recycling sites. If you do not have a compost heap you can include all your vegetable matter in them as well.
What happens to your food waste after it is collected? It will composted using a closed vessel, which will heat the food until it breaks down, whereafter it can be used as a soil improver. You can find out more about this from the Food Waste Network
If your local council does not collect food scraps, or you want to compost all your own food waste you can use a Bokashi Bin. Yes, every bit of food can be composted in a Bokashi bin - fish, meat, bones, fruit, veg and dairy. You simply put your food in the bin and add Bokashi bran, which contains 'Effective Microrganisms' to break down the food. Once it is broken down (in about two weeks) it can be used as a soil improver or added to a compost heap to accelerate composting.