Every year kiwis send 122, 547kg of food to landfill – this is food that could have been eaten, not to mention that which could have been composted. You can test your own food waste here.
One of the participants in this week’s Sustainapalooza activities was Christchurch City Council’s own Love Food Hate Waste team (seen at Monday’s Eco Market and before the cycle-powered movie on Tuesday). LFHW is a national campaign dedicated to ending food waste in New Zealand through education and action! On their website they offer recipes and tips for using leftovers and minimising food waste.
My name is Sarah Pritchett and for most of 2017 I had a contract role at the Christchurch City Council as the Love Food Hate Waste coordinator. I am now at UC in the sustainability office in a casual role, which is kind of full circle for me as my first degree was a BA in psychology from the University of Canterbury. This degree gave me a solid understanding of behaviour change theory which, combined with my passion for environmental sustainability, laid the foundations for my eventual career in environmental behaviour change.
60 councils throughout New Zealand are taking part in the Love Food Hate Waste campaign, which was brought to New Zealand from the UK by the Waste Management Institute. I first became aware of this campaign when I travelled to the UK on a Winston Churchill Memorial Trust Fellowship in 2010 to undertake research into waste minimisation strategies. The Love Food Hate Waste campaign was undoubtedly the highlight of the campaigns I researched so I feel fortunate to have been part of the team delivering this campaign.
So, you may be thinking, how is this campaign relevant to you? The answer is simple: Households with people aged between 16 – 24yrs who are responsible or jointly responsible for food shopping and preparation are among the worst offenders when it comes to wasting edible food. How do we know this? As you will know, any good campaign needs baseline data to ascertain the extent of a problem and the underlying causes of the problem. So before Love Food Hate Waste was launched in NZ Wasteminz undertook research via bin audits, an online survey, food diaries and indepth interviews. And the recent UC waste audit showed a huge amount of food waste is being produced here on campus.
The results? Approximately $872,000 worth of avoidable food waste is thrown out by New Zealand households every year. This averages out to $563 per household. I can think of lots of things I would spend an extra $563 on! That’s the bad news. The good news is that all it takes to reduce your household food waste is a bit of planning and thought.
Here are some simple tips to introduce to your household:
• Plan your meals for 5 out of 7 nights of the week and make a shopping list for these meals.
• Don’t be sucked into 2 for $5 deals! If you only need 1 capsicum you are actually losing $2.50 rather than saving money, especially if that extra capsicum ends up rotting away in a lonely corner of your fridge.
• The University of Otago has just released the results of some research they did on best ways to store vegetables. The general rule seems to be keep vegetables you have started using covered or in airtight containers.
• Keep a “smoothie bag” in the freezer and when you have bananas that no one wants to eat because they are too brown take off the skin, chop them up and place them in the smoothie bag to pop into the blender at a later date. You can also add other types of fruit past their best such as apples, summer fruit, or even wilted carrots.
• Be inventive! I recently discovered (via google) that you can use carrot tops to make a pesto. We combined them with walnuts, parsley (because this grows wild in my neighbourhood), parmesan cheese and olive oil and served it with the roast carrots.
For more tips and loads of recipes go to www.lovefoodhatewaste.co.nz
If you’d like to get hands on in helping to minimise food waste, Christchurch has two organisations that are always keen for new volunteers: 0800 HUNGRY and City Harvest. You can find their details here.
LFHW and the UCVegSoc handed out tastings of a couple of delicious dishes that you can make with leftover fruit and vegetables – Love your Leftovers, before the Cycle Cinema at Sustainapalooza on Tuesday prior to the screening of the award winning food waste documentary ‘Just Eat it’.