As we approach the big day, new research released by environmental charity Hubbub has found that people are changing their habits and promising to waste less food this Christmas.
UK homes produce on average seven million tonnes of food waste each year, while food waste is responsible for 11% of global greenhouse gas emissions.
Almost a third of us admit we throw away more food at Christmas than at any other time, but this year 29% are adamant that their Christmas food shopping will be kinder to the environment than ever before.
A poll of more than 3,000 UK adults found that over a third (38%) are planning to buy only food that is needed this Christmas, with 31% intending to use up all the festive leftovers.
Party food, sprouts and roast potatoes are the festive foods most likely to be thrown away, with turkey and gravy close behind, the survey found. This equates to 2 million turkeys, 5 million Christmas puddings and 7.4 million mince pies, being thrown away in the UK each Christmas.
Councillor Tony Miller, Cabinet Member for the Environment at Worcestershire County Council said, “We know that people waste more food over Christmas as we are forced into buying as much as we can ‘just in case’, but this leads to excessive waste, around 250,000 tonnes extra in the UK. We are asking the residents across the county to think about what they are buying and whether they really need it. If they do have left over food, either make it into another meal or freeze it for another day. And if you have too many boxes of biscuits and tubs of sweets and you are planning to start your diet on the 1st January, donate them to your local food bank or take to the Community Fridge at Upton Baptist Church”.
Hubbub have come up with the top ten tips to cut your food waste this Christmas:
- Plan ahead – only buy enough food for the meals you’ll be cooking and the guests who will be there, and check expiry dates when you’re shopping
- Avoid panic buying ahead of the bank holidays – the shops are only closed for three days!
- If you’re having turkey, choose the size carefully – how big was last year’s and how much did you throw away?
- Make room in your freezer in the run up to Christmas so you have plenty of storage space and check out Hubbub’s helpful guide to what food you can freeze – it’s more than you think!
- If you’re short of fridge space at this time of year, take advantage of the cold weather and consider keeping fruit, veg and drinks fresh in a cool box outside, or even in your car boot
- Don’t overdo how much food you put out at one time if you’re entertaining buffet-style, and put leftovers away in the fridge rather than leave them out overnight and ending up binning them
- Check your fridge before travelling away from home and freeze or pass on any food that will be out of date by the time you get back
- Try out apps, such as OLIO, to share food with those nearby, as well as family and friends
- Remember that food might still be eaten after its best before date – check it looks and smells OK. Food past its best can still be enjoyed in other ways, like a healthy home-made soup to get you back on track after the excesses of Christmas
- Before you reach that point where you can’t take any more leftover turkey, cook up a batch of stew or curry and freeze it for January