Food waste. When we think of these two words some may shrug and grimace at the thought of it while others consciously do everything they can to produce as little waste as possible. Some are taking it a step even further by creating community initiatives that benefit not only the environment, but our own wellbeing.
According to the Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations, one third of global food production is wasted annually. In the UK, over seven billion tonnes of food and drink are thrown away every single year. Among the most common food waste is bread, fruit and vegetables, costing each household nearly £470 a year. But why is this the case? Two main reasons are that we either buy and make too much, or don’t consume the food quick enough.
Businesses also contribute to the problem: research shows the UK manufacturing and retailer sector wastes approximately 1.9 million tonnes of food and drink every year. These are huge numbers and it might seem overwhelming to even think about how to tackle the problem, but there are solutions.
Community Initiatives are battling the food waste problem head on and proving that with dedication, teamwork and creativity, we can resolve issues no matter how unsolvable they may seem.
Bath Spa University has recently been awarded funding to set up their own sustainable food enterprise. The Student Eats Project will allow students to produce and sell low-carbon, fresh, healthy food across their campuses. It is hoped the university’s allotment society, Bath Spa Grow-Op, will collaborate with students who are passionate about the environment and sustainability to educate other students about the benefits of growing fresh produce at affordable prices. BSU is also home to a new project, Seasons Food Enterprise, inspired by the Student Eats Project – you can read milk’s article about the enterprise to find out more.
At the University of Bath, the “Leave No Trace” campaign encourages students and staff to reduce food waste by using a reusable container to fill with hot food for £2.50 and any sandwiches with a short use by date are discounted by 50%.
In the Community
It’s not only universities who are battling food waste in Bath. The Community Fridge in Frome allows businesses, restaurants and individuals to drop-off good but unwanted food, which can then be taken by other members of the community. It takes a simple yet effective approach and ensures the local community has somewhere to donate food that would otherwise go to waste.
Elsewhere, Bath Area Growers are a network of community groups who provide volunteering opportunities and training in horticultural skills. Their objective is simply to make fresh produce available to local communities. This way, individuals are given what they need without any food being wasted.
The Riverford box scheme is another example of a simple yet effective initiative that delivers fresh, seasonal organic produce to over 47,000 homes in the UK, reducing the amount of unwanted food. You can choose between small, medium, large and bumper box sizes and these are specially catered to fruit and veg or whichever you fancy. This means you only use what each box contains so there is less risk of throwing away food you won’t use.
Make better choices
With so many initiatives striving to tackle the food waste problem it’s clear there are creative and innovative solutions. But in everyday life, what can we as individuals do? We can support and get involved with these initiatives and educate ourselves on how much of a negative effect food waste has on the environment and in our communities.
Every day brings a new opportunity to make better choices. At our next food shop, we can take decisive action and only buy the food we know we need by planning meals ahead of time. Storing food in the right conditions means we have our meals covered throughout the week and saves us money.
If we each take responsibility for our actions then collectively we will see positive changes happen. We just need a little bit of courage and once we have that, we can look back on our actions and be proud we did everything we could to waste less and savour more.
To learn more about the local food waste initiatives featured in this article you can click the links to visit their websites. Search for them on Twitter too, and follow us while you’re there!