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Food Waste: Easy ways to do things better

10 July 2020

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When it comes to preventable household waste, many of us are already working hard to make a difference when it comes to reusing and recycling. But, have you considered the impact of that soggy, unused lettuce or uneaten leftovers going in your bin at the end of the week? We had a chat to sustainability expert, Nicola Turner from Mainstream Green, to find out why food waste is such an important issue and some simple ways we can all do things better.

Why is food waste a problem?

According to Love Food Hate Waste, Kiwis are throwing away a staggering 157,389 tonnes of food a year – which is equivalent to the size of 271 jumbo jets! While plastic waste gets the bulk of media coverage when it comes to waste (and for good reason), the volume of food we throw away is a big deal.  

Throwing out that stale bread costs more than you think

Reducing your food waste will also save you money. With the average Kiwi family throwing away three supermarket trolleys worth of edible food a year, it could be one of the easiest ways to cut your spending. 

Simple ways to make a difference

Reducing food waste may not take as much effort as you think. It could also save you precious time. Try these ideas:

  • Buy what you need – Be realistic, write a list and try meal planning to prevent that dreaded 5pm dinner panic.
  • Use up your leftovers – Take them for lunch or plan a ‘leftovers’ night each week.
  • Use your freezer – If anything is at risk of not being used, throw it in the freezer. Just be sure to label things!
  • Skip a trip – Challenge the family to create meals using what is already in your pantry and fridge (or what you already have at home), instead of doing that extra ‘top-up’ supermarket shop (and avoiding the hassle that comes with it!)
  • Consider composting – Try a worm farm or compost bin to reuse those food scraps that cannot be avo

Getting the family involved

Reducing food waste could be a great project to work on together as a family – and even the littlest members of your household can make a real difference. After all, there is a good reason why some parents call lunchboxes ‘food transporters’ – because they come back after school with much of the food you packed in them uneaten! Here are some ideas to get everyone motivated to do their bit:

  • Start the conversation – Talk with your children about why you are working towards reducing your food waste as a family, and how they can help.
  • Make it another meal – That half-eaten lunchbox could give you an instant afternoon tea option, instead of thinking up other snack ideas.
  • Freezer-friendly – Pop unwanted fruit into the freezer and reuse it in delicious smoothies. For uneaten veggie sticks or other nutritious odds and ends, use it when you next make a homemade soup or stock.
  • Put the kids in charge – Try giving them a few (parent-approved) choices of what goes in their lunchbox. Ask them to sprout leftover veggie stalks and plant them in the garden (spring onion stalks work a treat). They will love the sense of ownership. 

Little changes add up

The biggest challenge is always time and convenience, so focus on ways that you can keep up the habit and your commitment to reducing food waste. Along with making a measurable difference, your wallet will thank you for it!

About Nicola Turner


After spending the first 15 years of her career working in the global consumer goods industry, Nicola’s life was set on a different trajectory with a personal quest to live more simply and sustainably. Bringing together her understanding of human behaviour and her sustainability experience, Nic founded Mainstream Green as a Social Enterprise to inspire and create behaviour change. She now travels around New Zealand engaging businesses, councils and individuals about mindful consumption. It’s all about being more conscious of how we consume and the waste we create.ided. Many local councils even offer free courses on how to get started.

The information in this article has been compiled from various sources and is intended to be factual information only. It is not personal advice and any description of an insurance product or service is not a complete description of all the terms and conditions applicable to the particular insurance product or service. You should consult a qualified adviser for advice on whether the information in this article is suitable for your personal situation and needs. While we take reasonable steps to ensure that the information contained in this article is accurate and up-to-date, it is subject to change without notice. Asteron Life Limited and its related companies does/do not accept any responsibility or liability in connection with your use of or reliance on this article.

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