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What is Food Waste and How Can You Reduce Yours?

Stop Food Waste Day is an annual event to raise awareness about the issue of food waste and encourage people to take action. According to the United Nations, one-third of all food produced globally goes to waste. This is a staggering amount, and is only getting worse as our population grows.

Why do we need to Stop Food Waste?

First and foremost, wasting food is a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. When food is thrown away, it decomposes in landfills and releases methane, a potent greenhouse gas that is approximately 30 times more damaging than carbon dioxide. By reducing food waste, we can help to mitigate climate change.

By wasting food we are also wasting the valuable resources used in growing, harvesting, transporting and cooking it.

In addition to its environmental impact, food waste also has economic and social consequences. When food is wasted, it represents a loss of resources and money. By reducing food waste, we can help to ensure that everyone has access to the food they need.

By reducing food waste we can help move towards a more sustainable future. We can work on achieving the UN's Sustainable Development Goals 2, 12, 13 and 15 by reducing the amount of food that is wasted. Food waste contributes to unsustainable farming practices, excess land use, deforestation, greenhouse gas production and much more. Throwing away some bendy carrots may not feel like a big deal but when you times that by the number of households even just in the UK that's a huge amount of wasted resources.

Key Numbers in Food Waste

70% of food waste in the UK comes from our homes

45% of root crops, fruit and vegetables produced globally are lost or wasted per year

36 Million tonnes of greenhouse gases could be prevented by stopping food waste

How to Reduce Food Waste

There are simple steps we can take to reduce food waste in our own lives. Here are some tips to get you started:

1. Plan meals ahead of time: Before you go food shopping, take a few minutes to plan out your meals for the week. This will help you to buy only what you need and avoid buying items that will go to waste.

2. Store food properly: Make sure to store perishable items like fruits, vegetables, and dairy products in the fridge to keep them fresh for longer. Use airtight containers or beeswax wraps to keep leftovers fresh.

3. Freeze food: If you have leftovers or items that you know you won't use before they spoil, freeze them for later use. You can freeze chopped onions, whole chilli's, most herbs and lots of other ingredients as well as home made meals.

4. Use all parts of the food: Don't just throw away the parts of fruits and vegetables that you don't normally eat. For example, use carrot tops and beetroot greens in smoothies or soups.

5. Compost: If you do end up with food scraps, compost them instead of throwing them away. Composting is a great way to reduce your environmental impact and create nutrient-rich soil for your garden.

By taking these simple steps, we can all do our part to reduce food waste and create a more sustainable food system.

Food Waste Resources from the Change Agents Team

Some top tips for reducing food waste from our team here at Change Agents.

Beth Richards:

I always use LOVE FOOD HATE WASTE when I have leftovers to use, they have some gorgeous recipes on there and basically you just type in what random ingredients you have and it will provide lots of different recipes. My fave one far is the Lemon Yogurt cake, encouraging people to use up the scrapes of yogurt left rather than throwing away 😊

Eleanor Wills

I use cauliflower leaves in a stir fry or as a side as veg – it works very similar to cabbage and pak choi – super tasty (especially with some garlic and soy sauce).

Then banana is classic for pancakes or banana bread. Plus I freeze bread (a very common waste) chilli and ginger (then just grate into whatever you need).

Courtney McGrath

This honestly makes me feel like a food waste warrior haha. All of my veg peels and scraps from onions/garlic/broccoli stems/carrots/potato peels you name it, I have all saved in a left over bag in the freezer. When I have enough I boil it in a pan of water for about 30 minutes and use it as vegetable stock in soups or risotto 😊

Rosy Carter

To use up leftover meat from a Sunday lunch we might make something like this Pork & black bean tacos recipe | BBC Good Food

Avocado that’s about to go too soft can be squished into any sandwich, fajita or taco. Any fresh herbs that are hanging around in the fridge and you can serve with chopped tomato and onion Pico de gallo recipe | BBC Good Food which is good for using up tomatoes and you can add shredded lettuce too.

Megan Sturton

We make a weekly meal plan at home to use up any food cooked over the weekend and to only buy what we need for the week. Any leftovers are frozen if not being used the following week/eaten for lunch.

Favourite recipe for when we have fruit about to turn/lots coming from the garden:-

Stewed Fruit with Almond Crumble topping

Fruit of choice

Sugar/honey to taste


100g plain flour

80g golden caster sugar

80 cold butter, diced

1tsp almond/vanilla extract

80g flaked Almonds, roughly chopped – I often replace this with other seeds/nuts that I have in the store cupboard

Pre-heat oven to 200˚C/ Fan 180˚C/ Gas 6

Peel and dice larger fruit and cook down on the hob to make a compote with a dash of honey/sugar to your preferred taste and consistency.


Put the flour and sugar into a large bowl, add the butter and rub with your fingers until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add the almond/vanilla extract and mix well.

Spread the crumb mix onto a baking tray and place on the top shelf of the oven for 10-12 minutes or until golden and crunchy.

Leave to cool and then break up.

Serve the fruit hot or cold and add the crunchy topping.

Any leftover crumble topping can be frozen and sprinkled over any dessert of choice or even on its own without the need to defrost 😊


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