Reduce food waste for World Environment Day

think eat save

Think. Eat. Save. This is the theme for World Environment Day 2013, and it’s all about food waste. Worldwide, it is estimated that a third of all food produced goes to waste – that’s more than enough to feed the 900 million people who go hungry every day. As you can see from the infographic below, in Australia we have cause to hang our heads in shame.

If I had my way, food scraps would be banned from kerbside collection. Imagine.

In ye olde days of our parents’ parents, no-one would even think about putting food waste into the bin. It simply didn’t happen. Party because our grandparents had experienced food scarcity, but also because homes were more of a closed loop. Scraps went to the chooks or the compost. Prawn heads were buried in the garden. Bones were cooked up for stock. There was no such word as “leftovers”, in those days, it was called “lunch”.

I’m proud to say that we waste no food at the DTEM homestead. We have worms, chooks, compost and a big garden to dispose of anything that we can’t eat but, to be honest, I sometimes struggle to find scraps for the chooks because we simply buy and cook what we need.

Why can’t I just send it to landfill?
There is a misconception that food will break down happily in landfill, which surely is just a giant composting system, right? Wrong. Food needs air and light to decompose properly, neither of which it gets encased in plastic bags surrounded by 50 tonnes of it’s nearest and dearest. Instead, it rots, releasing methane, which is a greenhouse gas way  worse than CO2.

When you throw food in the bin, you’re not only throwing the individual item or plate of scraps away, you’re tossing out the energy used to grow or rear the food, the fuel used to transport it, the resources used to store it, not to mention the money you spent to buy it!

How can I reduce food waste at home? It’s easy, truly! Here are ten tips  to help you think, eat save.

  1. Ban food from the bin: make it a household rule.
  2. Next, set up systems to deal with your food scraps: you cannot go past a worm farm for vegetable cuttings. Worm farms do not smell, I promise you. Other options are compost heaps, Bokashi buckets or this Urban Composter unit.
  3. If possible, get chickens to turn your scraps into eggs, or a dog to turn your scraps into….  love. This is the ideal solution for the food that gets flung by small tyrants in high chairs.
  4. Get wise about food storage. If you live in a humid climate, keep biscuits and flour in the fridge. Keep your grains in glass jars with good lids. Freeze fruits and veges when you have too many.
  5. Apply the FIFO principle to your food: First In, First Out (eat the stuff you bought first, duh!)
  6. Let stuff run out. Especially your staple items (my husband HATES this, but tough). What happens is that you use barley instead of rice, make a tomato-based curry instead of coconut-based, and some very random meals in between. But all those things lurking in the back of the pantry get used instead of going to waste, and sometimes you create new family favourites, true!
  7. When you think you have nothing in the house to eat, go just one day more. Oh look: dried beans, some rice, a few herbs and leaves from the garden. Lunch is served.
  8. Plan your meals before you go shopping and then stick to your list. Read that again. Now do it.
  9. Use your leftovers to make meals. Need some ideas? Here are a few.
  10. Cook more from scratch: you will value it more when you’ve put the effort in.

Will join me and pledge to throw no food item away? Come on!

Do Something About Food Waste

Do Something About Food Waste infographic by lunchalot


  1. narelle says

    If you haven’t had a look at “the thrifty kitchen” written by Suzanne Gibbs, Margaret Fultons daughter you should educate yourself.

    They taught me about the concept of cooking for leftovers and getting creative with your food. They give some great advice about food storage and minimizing wastage.

    There are some amazing teachers out there all available to us on the internet or our local library.
    So lets do something about our food waste – learn how to use it.
    Personally I think menu planning is a huge food waster because it usually leaves no room for left overs. In our rush to be organised we are missing out on simplicity : )
    narelle recently posted..Adding the science of alchemy to our diet…..My Profile

    • (dt)em says

      Ordered it! thanks Narelle. I hear you about the leftovers, I guess meal planning needs to be pretty flexible and I think that takes a lot of practise and experience in the kitchen. x

  2. Lou says

    We recently bought a worm farm, yay for us!
    Great post, great tips to reduce waste.
    I agree with Narelle though, I find the more I plan meals, the more I end up throwing away. I prefer just to make sure I get a good mix of veg and meat, and then run from there, making myself use what I’ve got.
    And now that I have a worm farm, I can feel much less guilty about the odd rubber carrot and mouldy zucchini I don’t use.

    • (dt)em says

      Yay for you Lou, are you enjoying the worm farm? I was very squeamish about it at first, but I love it now. As for the meal planning – you are a fabulous cook so can make something spesh from whatever’s in the cupboard. I know… I’ve seen you in action xxx

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