Food waste isn't just bad for your pocket – here's how it contributes to climate change too

Not wasting food has all kinds of practical benefits, including fighting global warming, and having more money to spend on nice things

(Image credit: Getty)

Food waste is a huge problem around the world, and reducing food waste should be on everyone's agenda. The Western nations, unsurprisingly, are particularly bad at shopping for food wisely. It's estimated that rich nations waste almost as much food per year as sub-Saharan Africa produces in the same time period. Another shocking piece of data? Over eight million people in the UK struggle to afford a meal according to official UN data, despite richer Britons wasting billions in food every year. 

Even without the moral argument for reducing food waste, however, there are practical reasons why tackling this problem is a good idea. Firstly, wasting food costs you money: by some estimates, bad habits around throwing away food cost a British family around £540 a year. 

Secondly, food waste contributes to climate change. How? It's easy to think that because food biodegrades, there's no problem with throwing it away. However, food waste that ends up in landfill ends up trapped by layers of all the other waste there and generates methane – one of the greenhouse gases responsible for global warming. 

What can we all do about it? Radically changing food shopping habits can be difficult, especially when food shopping is built into a complex routine of juggling work, family, and other commitments you may have. Instead, invest in a better fridge with a spacious freezer. Freezing food is by far the best way to preserve, and with many fridge manufacturers introducing technologies that keep food fresher longer, you're more likely to still be able to use something you forgot about. 

And – if you do end up occasionally forgetting about that bag of salad in the fridge, don't beat yourself up about it. Instead, start composting your leftovers and any food that's gone off. If you don't have the room for a compost heap, or don't want one, you can request a composting bin from the council, which they will regularly collect food waste from. The food waste is then made into compost, which is free to pick up from them. 

Want make even more positive lifestyle changes? Visit our eco hub page for advice and ideas.