7 Easy Steps to Reduce Your Food Footprint and Save Money

6 May 2016

food waste in bin

When was the last time you had to throw away food that went off in your fridge? How many times a week do you buy takeaway when you’ve got food at home that you could eat?

Don’t worry, most of us are guilty. Compared to the rest of Australia, the average Canberran is relatively affluent and with affluence comes the ability to purchase a variety of goods and services.

Our buying power is expressed through our global footprint, which is 8.9 hectares per person - three and a half times the global average.

ACT Ecological Footprint Fact Sheet  

ACT Ecological Footprint Report (40 pages)

ACT Commissioner for Sustainability and Environment, recommends buying less ‘things’ and focusing more on enjoying meaningful activities. A great way to reduce our food waste is by paying more attention to planning our meals, taking stock of what’s in our cupboards and writing a shopping list.

Our Food Footprint

Whether it’s the food we purchase at the supermarket or what we eat at restaurants and cafes, our impact is high – 24% or almost one-quarter of our ecological footprint (by consumption category). That’s partly because most of the food we consume comes from outside of the Canberra region or from the other side of the world. Think garlic from Argentina, tinned tomatoes from Italy or out of season oranges imported from America. Sound familiar?

Food Waste

Most of us are guilty of wasting some of the food we buy – whether we throw out leftovers or fruit and vegetables rotting in the bottom of the fridge.

The average Australian household throws out at least $20 of groceries per week. That represents  $1000 per year per household going directly to landfill or over 7 billion dollars nationally. Now, that’s a lot of money that could be put towards better uses! Not to mention the amount of energy that was used to produce the food in the first place.

shopping trolley with 1 in 5 shopping bags end up in bin

http://www.foodwise.com.au/foodwaste/food-waste-fast-facts/

Unfortunately, food waste that isn’t composted or fed to animals, ends up in Canberra’s Mugga Lane landfill and also contributes to the production of toxic greenhouse gases, like methane.

Ways to Reduce Food Waste

Studies by the Environment Protection Authority, Sydney found there are a number of simple ways to reduce food waste. They include:

  1. Plan meals in advance – there are recipes online that help you generate a shopping list
  1. Check the fridge and cupboards to see what ingredients you already have – how many times have you found three different bags of opened rice in the pantry?
  2. Write a shopping list and stick to it

Food Waste Avoidance Benchmark Study Fact Sheet

Hand with mobile phone and sticky tab with shopping list

Remember, it takes a while to form a new habit, but saving $20 a week is a good incentive.

Other ways to reduce your food waste include:

4. Have a strict weekly budget

5. Buy smaller amounts of food more regularly

6. Cycle or walk to the shop or Farmers’ Market to limit how much you can carry home

7. Take cash – once your budget is spent, leave the shops and avoid the ATM.

New Zealand farmer and author, Lyn Webster slashed her food budget after becoming a single parent in 2009. Webster shared her experience in her book ‘Pig’s tits and parsley sauce – slash your grocery bill by living sustainably’. She stuck to a $100 a week food budget for herself and two daughters which allowed her to save towards her goals. Webster made her budget go further by making her own cleaning products (using bicarbonate of soda) and growing vegetables whilst her daughters baked biscuits and cakes for their snacks. http://pigtitsandparsleysauce.co.nz/ 

Incorporating one of these suggestions into your routine will make a difference. Remember, start small and work your way up. Any improvement is a good one!

living sustainably

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