In November, over 170 residents from 87 households participated in the sixth annual Dacorum Love Food, Hate Waste challenge.
The challenge coincided with the COP26 climate conference so was a perfect opportunity for residents to get motivated and play their part in tackling climate change by learning how to reduce their household food waste.
UK households waste 4.5 million tonnes of edible food every year, which amounts to around £700 for an average family per year – a huge waste of money as well as resources. In addition, when food enters the waste system it releases methane into the atmosphere which contributes greatly to climate change. In fact, if food waste was a country, it would be the third largest emitter of greenhouse gas emissions.
Over two thirds of last year’s participants were already aware of the link between food waste and climate change and felt they were already good with their food waste but wanted to improve their knowledge. This was accomplished through the challenge, as over 84% of the participants said their food waste reduced throughout the month-long challenge.
Part of the challenge involved completing a food waste diary so progress could be measured throughout the month. The average difference in food waste between week 1 and week 4 of the challenge was a 34% reduction which is a fantastic achievement by the participants.
During the challenge each household received two emails per week; one explaining a behaviour to focus on such as freezing leftovers and portion planning, and one focusing on commonly wasted foods, including bananas and milk, with recipes to inspire ways they can use up each food. The guidance was well-received; over 96% of those surveyed after the challenge found the challenge helpful and the majority said they will pass their new knowledge on to friends and family.
One participant, Elizabeth, said ‘This challenge has been a real eye opener for me. I wasn’t taught things like this at school like basics of how to manage a kitchen but this has really made me review how we live and eat as a family.’
Another participant, Rob, commented ‘This project allowed us a point of focus and was just what we needed. I noticed it most when I debated putting [our bin] out for collection as there was so little to take.’
Participants who completed both the pre-challenge and post-challenge survey were entered into a prize draw. The lucky winner, Ann Pearce (pictured), won an eco-friendly food storage set. Ann shared her experience of the challenge: ‘Even though I feel that I do well with my food waste, I found the challenge very informative and I learnt many new things. I would encourage anyone to have a go at the next challenge.’
The Christmas and New Year period can be a peak time for food waste, with many households over-buying food and cooking too much food. It is estimated that throwing away one portion of Christmas dinner produces the same carbon emissions as having your Christmas lights on every day in December
To find out how to reduce food waste in the home, visit the Love Food Hate Waste website.
Those interested in signing up for the next food waste challenge should email email@example.com to register their interest.
More tips on leading a more environmentally friendly lifestyle can be found at www.dacorum.gov.uk/gogreen.