Eating to excess has become synonymous with the festive period. In fact, on Christmas day alone, the average Briton will fuel up on 6000 calories (1), cooking and eating 80 percent more food during the festive period than any other time of the year.
Waste management experts Businesswaste.co.uk point out that 230000 tonnes of this food goes in the bin. The stats are staggering: 17.2 million sprouts (half of all sold), 10.9 million parsnips and 11.3 million potatoes are thrown away. If that doesn’t bother you too much, then the fact that a whopping 7.1 million pigs in blankets, 7.5 million mince pies and 2 million kilograms of cheese are thrown away might just surprise you. The fact that 263000 turkeys are wasted might convince you that we’re doing it wrong.
That’s just pure food waste. Not to mention the 1 tonne of mince pie foils, the 125,000 tonnes of food wrapping plastic, the 300 million plastic cups and straws, the 3000 tonnes of turkey packaging and a whopping 4,500 tonnes of tin foil!
Take a moment to wash that down with 1 of the 250,000,000 pints of beer consumed over the festive period.
All this waste comes from the extra £100 the average UK household spends in December, with £16 of it going straight in the bin. It shows how our individual impact is large when applied to a population, as this amounts to a UK Christmas food waste bill of £444 million.
Interested in ways to become part of the solution, leading waste management company businesswaste.co.uk advise the following tips to reduce your food waste impact.
- Plan in advance
Planning, check your cupboards and writing a list might seem like a time-consuming task but research has shown that it can produce 20% less food waste (2). Be careful not to buy fresh produce too early and prevent food going bad before you use it. Also write a guest list so that you can plan numbers correctly to avoid over cooking.
- Compost scraps
Composting is an easy way to reduce food that would using go to landfill. Compost will also make use of all the leftover bits that we can’t eat such as vegetable peels and eggshells. When composting you will be surprised at how little will end up in your black bin and with all that nutritious compost on hand your plants and garden will be very happy!
- Recycle your packaging
If possible, visit your local greengrocers, markets and farm shops where produce is more likely to be loose and free of plastic packaging. A great way to reduce waste and support the local economy in one! But if you do have to buy food in packaging then clean and recycle where possible and buy items with more recyclable packaging.
- Donate excess to food banks
By donating your unwanted food to a food bank helps to support those in need. Without your goodwill then food banks will struggle to operate. You can find your local food bank here or you may find that your local supermarket has a collection point too.
- Get creative, use the leftovers
When you’re planning meals, always think about what you could do with any extras. For Christmas dinner the vegetables and left-over turkey can make a delicious pie, soup or even sandwich on boxing day. Make sure you store leftovers smartly in glass storage containers that make it easy to see what you have in your fridge and a much eco-friendlier alterative to plastic containers. Label and date the contents to help you stay on top of your fridge organisation.