The holidays are a great time to reconnect with family and recharge the batteries. It is also the season when we purchase more food than we need and this leads to unnecessary food waste.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), we throw away about one-third of the food we produce, approximately 1.3 billion tonnes and about $1.2 trillion. The Boston Consulting Group estimates that by 2030 annual food loss and waste will hit 2.1 billion tons worth $1.5 trillion.

Food loss and waste accounts for about 4.4 gigatons of greenhouse gas emissions each year (World Resources Institute), which is 4 times the greenhouse gas emissions from aviation.

If food loss and waste were a country, it would be the world’s third largest emitter next to China and the United States.

Image courtesy of University of California

Food waste and it is a complex problem and happens in all parts of the food supply chain; on the farm, in supermarkets, at restaurants and in every single home.

Although a major cause of food waste comes from crops being left behind in the field, or when retailers downsize an order or can’t sell it all, the biggest waster of food is the consumer in the household.

In Australia, consumers throw away around 3.1 million tonnes of edible food a year and costs the Australian economy around $20 billion each year. While one in five experience food insecurity.

In the USA up to 40% of the produced is not eaten. While at the same time one in eight American’s struggle to put enough food on the table.

The best way to prevent food waste is to keep it from happening in the first place. 

Tips to Reduce Food Waste

  • Plan – We all have our regular meals and they start with a shopping list. Research shows that when you shop with a list you not only buy less but do less trips.
  • Shop More – Don’t buy more, just shop more often. Buy only what you need. Retail has changed, we can now get what we want when we want it. There is no need to stock up.
  • Portions – Only take what you think you can eat, you can always go back for seconds. The Save The Food website also has a handy tool to help you plan your next food event to minimize waste, it’s called the Guest-Imator.
  • Leftovers – Have a least one meal that uses leftovers. As part of your shopping list have items you need that will turn those leftovers into another amazing meal.
  • Freeze – Magic happens in the freezer, it is a pause button for food. Freezing food early not only seals in the goodness but also it’s freshness. Almost anything can be frozen.
  • Share – Share your leftovers. Tell your guests to bring empty containers so the leftovers can go to other homes.  The Spare Harvest IOS and Andriod app also helps you share excess food by connecting you with your community. As they say your trash is someone else’s treasure. If you can’t use it then don’t waste it, share it.

The holidays has traditionally been one of the most wasteful times of the year, but is does not have too be that way next year. Let’s make next year a less wasteful year by starting this year. Each one of us can do our part with some small changes. Those changes add up when we all to our bit.