One third of the food produced in Germany ends up in the garbage. This amounts to 150 g of food waste per person per day. These are frightening quantities. Of course not only the food ends up in the garbage, but also a lot of money..
I don't know about you, but I always get really angry when I see other people throwing things away. Leftover food that you just don't feel like eating anymore? An apple with brown dents? A yoghurt that reached its best-before date yesterday? All of that ends up in the trash, even though you could have eaten it. It's probably because of people's convenience. And certainly ignorance and unawareness play a part. Because many people are not aware of how harmful food waste is to the environment.
Why does food waste harm the environment?
Food makes up 20% of solid waste going to landfill. As organic substances, however, they cannot decompose there because they are trapped. The food is surrounded by a lot of non-organic substances, so that decomposition is not possible. Furthermore, there is not enough air in landfills to support decomposition. Instead, the organic matter releases methane, which, as we all know, is a major contributor to climate change.
What gets thrown away?
First of all, it should be said that almost all of what is thrown away is still edible. After all, it is not spoiled food that makes up the majority of our food waste, but things that no longer seem appetizing or good enough.
Particularly often this concerns Fruit and vegetables. Just that which is such an important part of our food! Unfortunately, it quickly becomes unsightly if stored incorrectly and therefore often ends up in the garbage.
Also Leftovers, Bread, and Baked goods account for a large proportion (30%) of food waste. Incidentally, dairy product waste (9%) is significantly less common than fruit and vegetable waste, which accounts for 34%.
Tips for avoiding food waste
How often do you go shopping (spontaneously) without first looking in your home cupboards to see what else you have? It also helps to think about what you want to eat during the week. Then you can shop more purposefully and less food will go bad. That means less waste..
Brown spot = rotten apple?
A little bit of "rot" will not kill you. If I see that my potatoes, tomatoes or apples have a brown spot, I simply cut out the affected piece. The rest can be used without any problems.
By the way, this also applies to avocados: It is widely believed that avocado is inedible if it has light brown spots. Only when mould is discovered should you stop eating it. The brown spots are mainly caused by oxidation.
However, you should be more careful with milk and meat and dispose of mouldy products completely. For this reason, it makes sense to think about how and when you want to use and eat the food that quickly goes bad before you buy it.
You know what that is? You go to the supermarket or to the market to buy certain things - and in the end your shopping basket is completely overfilled? It happens to me especially when I go shopping hungry... It's never a good idea.
We often buy more than we can consume in time. Buy less, even if at first you think you are buying too little - usually you end up with just the right amount. You can always buy more if you notice that you have too little. But you cannot undo what you have already bought.
We all have the secret fear of not having enough food at home and therefore tend to buy too much. In addition, supermarkets can market quite well. You are tempted to buy more without realizing it.
So watch yourself while shopping and buy less than you would like to at first!
Keep using your leftovers
Often food leftovers end up in the organic waste or in the compost, which could have been reused. These include carrot and potato peelings, the skin of onions and garlic or the tips of leeks and celery. These can be used to make vegetable broths and vegetable chips or other vegetables. On the Internet you can find lots of ideas for the further use of food leftovers!
So before we simply throw them into the bin next time we can ask ourselves if there are still possibilities to use the leftovers..
Use the possibilities of your freezer
If you notice that certain things are slowly going bad or that you probably can't process them in time, it's worth freezing these foods. Most fruits and vegetables can be frozen. Frozen bananas and zucchini, for example, make great smoothies! There are also many ways of processing frozen food.
Even leftover food such as ready-cooked dishes can often be frozen for several months.
My freezer is quite small. Maybe it's because I sometimes forget that I have it... It helps us a lot to reduce food waste!
Prepare once, enjoy several times
Sometimes you are so busy preparing all the different dishes that you have planned to eat that you waste more food than necessary. And sometimes something gets in your way or you postpone your plans. You eat out, get invited or you don't have enough time to cook.
Therefore, it makes sense to cook or prepare vegetables once and then eat them several times. As a one-person household I like to cook several portions at once. I eat the first portion in the evening and take the second portion with me to university the next day.
Once you are about to cut paprika and know that you will need some more for wraps in the next few days anyway, you can cut the whole paprika directly. If you then want to prepare the wraps you are happy for the work done in advance.
So you can just try to keep it simple. This does not mean that you should eat only one dish for a whole week. But you can think about how to cook cleverly and simply and still have variety.
In the beginning, every new habit requires strength and endurance. Everything seems to be much more elaborate and complicated. But if you try one or the other of the tips mentioned here a few times, it soon works by itself. Your own consciousness and attitude towards food and waste changes. And you can feel good about contributing to climate protection!