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Waste not want not

All Areas > Environment > Save the Planet

Author: Contributed, Posted: Monday, 24th November 2014, 08:00

We’re probably all guilty of over-indulging on food and drink over the festive season, but this over-indulgence means that we are also over-buying food and over-wasting it too.

Every year in the UK, we throw away approximately seven million tonnes of food and drink – over half of this could be eaten. In 2012, it was found that at Christmas, we as a nation throw away the equivalent of five million Christmas puddings, two million turkeys and a staggering 74 million mince pies (according to the Love Food Hate Waste campaign).

The cost of throwing food away each year amounts to £470 for an average household and this waste counts for roughly 4% of the UK’s total water footprint.

So, what can you do to help reduce your food waste this Christmas? We Brits are, generally speaking, generous folk, so when we entertain guests we like to make sure there’s plenty of food to go around. However, when buying snacks and nibbles, think realistically about how many people you’re providing for and how much they are likely to eat. Buy foods that can be stored in cupboards or frozen if not eaten on the day and remember to use them up before the ‘use by’ date passes.

Fresh vegetables and salad are some of the most wasted foods in the UK, so try using a compost bin, which means you can recycle the food to help plants grow in your garden – or start a small vegetable patch of your own!

It’s not just leftover turkey you need to worry about. Around 15 million cups of turkey fat are poured down the kitchen sink at Christmas, which then hardens and costs £50m a year to clear from sewer pipes. Try using empty butter tubs to pour fat and grease into – pop the tub in the freezer and, when solid, into your wheelie bin. Alternatively, mix the fat with nuts and seeds to create home-made fat balls for your garden birds.

Finally, residents in Gloucester, Cheltenham, the Forest of Dean and Tewkesbury can now line their food caddies with plastic carrier bags as well as corn-starch bags or paper. The food waste will then be recycled in the most effective, sustainable and environmentally friendly way at Gloucestershire’s new anaerobic digestion waste facility near Bishop’s Cleeve.

The facility will turn recycled food into green energy – enough to power over 3,000 homes – and in spring 2015 it will also produce bio fertiliser, which can be used on local farms.

Why not make a New Year’s Resolution to cut down your food and drink waste – it will save you money and will significantly help the environment.

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