It’s the first week of a new month and I’ve started a new environmental challenge. I’m taking part in the #FoodSavvy challenge, working with Suffolk and Norfolk County Councils on the campaign to reduce food waste and single-use plastics. As a keen recycler (and upcycler, for that matter!) I’m so excited to be involved and have already made a start…
Did you know that in Norfolk and Suffolk alone 113,000 tonnes of food is wasted each year? And I’m pretty sure that the figures will be similar wherever you live in the country. I think it’s such a shame that we are wasting so much food – both financially and environmentally. The aim of the #FoodSavvy challenge is to reduce the amount of food waste by 20% and decrease single-use plastics by 10% by the end of the month. So, I’ve got my measurement sheets printed and I’ve pulled out the scales from the back of the baking cupboard.
While the #FoodSavvy challenge is to improve food waste and reduce single-use plastic waste, the first thing to do is carry on as ‘normal’ while I record how much is going into the bin. This gives me a baseline measurement so that I can see if an improvement has been made by the end of the month. I know it’s gross to look at but here’s just some of the things that have gone off in my kitchen so far…
I made my first mistake on Monday when I threw leftover yorkshire puddings and stuffing from our Sunday lunch into the bin without thinking about it. Then I remembered that I was doing the challenge and had to scoop it all out of the bin to measure how much I was throwing away. Let me tell you, I haven’t made that mistake since – it was gross! Keeping a measuring bowl on the worktop has helped.
Almost 1/3 of all food thrown away at home is leftover cooked food like this, so I’m going to try to make the most of my meals this month and use up leftovers the next day. Let’s not mention the second error I made on Tuesday when I cooked up excess portions of spaghetti for dinner. I probably make enough for 4 people rather than just us two. And then (sorry, it’s gross again) I left it in the colander overnight so it was crispy by the time I binned it in the morning oops.
I also struggle with eating things before they go off – or before the use-by date. I have to admit that these eggs that were ‘best before 7th Jan’ were still in my fridge and it’s a month later. And that bread that I should have binned at the end of January was going mouldy in my cupboard. It’s simply because we don’t have a regular routine for meals so I don’t always know how or when I’m going to use ingredients when I buy them.
I actually joined in with the #FoodSavvy challenge last year too, and it made a big different to reducing the amount of food we wasted within that month. And after the challenge finished, I felt like I had changed my habits enough to keep it up all year.
However, by the end of 2019, I could feel that my old ways were catching up with me. I wasn’t going to the supermarket regularly enough, fruit and veg were going off in my salad drawer, and I was eating out too much. The result was that a lot of potentially edible food (if I had only eaten it before it went mouldy) was going into the bin. And that just seemed really wasteful to me.
After Christmas (more leftovers, and a ‘big shop’ that we never quite got through) I felt like I needed to reboot and decided to take on the #FoodSavvy challenge again this year. It’s running throughout February – although you could take the challenge ANY month of the year – and I’m excited to get started.
It’s simply a case of measuring any food waste that you’re throwing away to see if you can reduce that amount over the course of the challenge. In this instance, we’re not talking about peelings and teabags etc, it’s more about food that could be eat but that goes bad before you get round to eating it and ends up in the bin. Things like salad leaves, anything in the fruit bowl, the ends of a loaf of bread or leftovers from last night’s dinner – and that’s just the things that I personally struggle with.
And this year there’s a focus on reducing single-use plastic waste too. Part of the challenge is to minimise the amount of packaging you throw away each month – those sandwich packets or sushi trays from your shop-bought lunch, your takeaway coffee cup lid, the wrapper from a grab-and-go snack.
I’ve actually just been to the supermarket to stock up because I literally ran out of food yesterday and had to rely on fast food and takeaways for lunch and dinner. It’s been a while since I got in a proper food shop because we’ve been away and have just been buying bread and milk from the local shop since we got back. And when there’s no pasta left in my cupboard that’s when I know it’s time to head to the supermarket.
On the #FoodSavvy website are many recipes and tips that’ll help you to reduce your food waste and your plastic waste. I’m hoping that by making lunches for my husband and I to take with us when we go out, we’ll reduce the amount of takeaway packaging we use by eating on the go. And I’m going to try to choose food products that aren’t packaged in plastic while going supermarket shopping.
I’ll be reporting back on how I get on with the challenge throughout the month so keep an eye on my blog and Twitter account @Cassiefairy. Also, why don’t you join in with the challenge too? Here’s the link to the #FoodSavvy website with all the details you need to get started. I’d love to hear from you if you’re also taking on the challenge this month – drop me a comment below and let me know your plans. Wish me luck!
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