This year, Earth Overshoot day was the 29th July however for the UK, our overshoot day was the 17th May. This means that on the 17th May the UK used up all the natural resources for the whole year and will therefore be in environmental deficit for over 6 months. To move this date, there are many changes that need to be done however changing our food consumption habits is an easy way to making a large difference. It is believed that simply halving the amount of meat eaten each day could shift overshoot day by 5 days!
In 2015, the United Nations put together 17 Sustainable Development Goals to work towards peace and prosperity for people and the planet. One of the 17 goals is based upon responsible consumption and production. What does this mean though? The aim for this goal is to ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns so that we do minimise extraction of resources and reduce degradation of environmental resources.
One simple adjustment, in favour of this, could be with the food we waste. An estimated one-third of food produced for human consumption is wasted globally. This is equal to 1.3 billion tonnes of food being thrown away each year! 10 million tonnes of this is from the UK alone. In 2015, this equated to £13 billion being thrown away. This works out at £470 per household – a lot of money to be throwing in the bin!
So, what can we do to reduce this financial and environmental waste?
· To start – shopping smart. Buying in bulk may feel more beneficial for your pocket however often produces a lot of waste when food isn’t consumed fast enough.
· Getting into a habit of buying when needed would help reduce the amount of food that ends up in a bin. To support this, you could try meal planning.
· Understanding food packing is another way to prevent unnecessary waste. Food that is tagged with a ‘best before’ label means that the food will be at its best up to this date however is still safe to consume after. If these dates are checked regularly and consumed appropriately, we are less likely to need to throw food that has turned.
· Cook (what I call in my house) fridge food. This is what I do at the end of each week, where I look at what is approaching its use by date or starting to look sad and turn it into something out of the box. There are websites that can help with this, such as: https://myfridgefood.com/, where you simply pick the different foods in your fridge and it will provide you with different recipes.
We are lucky to live in Central Bedfordshire as we have an anaerobic digestion facility in our county. This means that any food that is wasted is heating, to remove any bacteria, and then broken down to produce methane gas which is collected and used to generate electricity. The fertilizer is then used on farmland; meaning all food waste is recycled and used in a beneficial way. Even with this, we should still be minimising the waste we produce, as this would be more beneficial to the climate than it being recycled.