Oxfam beneficiaries from Dadeldhura district, Western Nepal show off their produce. Photo: Jisu Mok/ Oxfam

How can YOU help cut down on food waste?

11 January, 2013 | GROW

Did you see the headlines yesterday saying that almost half the world’s food is thrown away? According to a new report from the Institute of Mechanical Engineers, between 1.2 and 2 billion tonnes of food produced around the world is never eaten. Instead, it’s thrown away by food producers, supermarkets and consumers.

Shocking, isn’t it? When you consider that, at the same time, 1 in 8 of us go to bed hungry every night, that figure becomes even more shocking.

So what can we do about it?

Well, there’s clearly a big role for supermarkets and food companies to play, and there are lots things our governments should be doing better.

In developed countries like the UK, food is generally wasted at the ‘retail level’ – by supermarkets and consumers. But in developing countries, food waste tends to happen in the field, rather than the fridge. This is because small-scale farmers don’t have access to places to store their crops, or roads to transport them to market.

Oxfam and our allies are working with different players in the food system around the world to support small-scale farmers to reduce waste in the field and increase their incomes.

But we can each make a difference too. As well as demanding that governments and companies take steps to cut down food waste, we can also show them that we mean business by doing the same. By loving our leftovers and trying to cut down on food waste at home, we can help to reduce the amount of food wasted.

The GROW Method is a simple set of ideas for things we can each do in our everyday lives to help build a better food system. Cutting down food waste at home is key to this.  

Need some ideas for how you can cut down on the food your throw away? It’s simple. All you need is a little forward-planning and some creativity. It’ll probably save you money, and it might even be fun!

  • Plan your meals. Yes, it sounds boring, but by having a rough idea of what you’re going to eat each week and when, you know how much food you need to buy. Knowing what you’re going to eat each night can also help take the stress out of cooking. There’s tons of advice out there on how to plan your meals – check out our Grow Method meal planner shopping list template for starters.
  • Love your leftovers. Show your leftovers a bit of love instead of chucking them in the bin. If you need a bit of inspiration on what to do with your leftovers, take a look at our creative and delicious leftovers recipes on Pinterest!
  • Help inspire others. Do you have a favourite dish you make to use up leftovers? Then add them to our collaborative board to help inspire others. Become a pinner now!

But what do you think? Do you have other ideas for how we can try to waste less food?

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Stop wasting food

My twopennyworth

Much though I loathe government health campaigns, there should certainly be a state-funded campaign against waste. People simply don’t understand what waste really means.

Perhaps organisations should create images of undernourished children next to lorries pouring good vegetables and bread into landfill sites.


wasting food

 I remember my brother Geoff getting a clip round the ear in our local supermarket 40 odd year ago when my ma would peek her head through to the butchers deptment to ask for bones for the dog my brother would pipe up but mammy we dont have a dog hence the clip round the ear on a serious note mammy would take the bones home and with an onion a couple of carrots a sweade and some spuds a couple of hand fulls of pearl barly would make the most tasteiest soup ive ever had on the second day she would add dumplins a real treat nothing was waisted back then oh how i yern for the good old days..



How about when supermarkets

How about when supermarkets lock their bins? In my student days, we once sourced a years worth of bread from the local Spar trash cans.

Scarcity is not the problem; let's tackle this together

Although I am a vigorous non-waster of food (it has always pained me to see food thrown away), I worry about a campaign to get people to eat their leftovers, since food not wasted does not reach those who are going hungry: nor does it somehow free up food for them.

As Oxfam's report clearly shows, scarcity is not the root cause of hunger. The problem is income inequality, access and distribution and that is where we have to tackle the problem. My fear is that some people wanting to "do good" the easy way will simply throw out fewer bananas in the belief that they are helping the hungry. Oxfam's campaign to end poverty and hunger - and its recent report that the world's wealthiest could end extreme poverty 4 times over is what inspired me to come to this site and to decide to make a monthly contribution. But please, let's all do what we can to really make a difference. If you save money by eating your leftovers, then send that money to Oxfam or other organizations working to end poverty and hunger.

Thanks much to Oxfam for starting this conversation and doing this work.

Thanks for your comment!

Thanks very much for your thoughtful comment. You make a really interesting and valid point, but I do think there's a role for individuals to play in this kind of thing. Certainly for me, when I think about the choices I make at home when it comes to food, I don't not waste food because I think that food will go to those who are hungry. It's more about a symbolic thing - if I want other consumers or companies to waste less, or governments to take action, I feel like I *should* be walking the walk as well... I don't know if that makes sense - what do you think? 



Plus, to add to Josephine's

Plus, to add to Josephine's comment, reducing food waste does indirectly have an impact on the availability of food globally. By reducing food waste, we leave more food in the market, reducing pressure on rising prices, and we take away unnecessary pressure on natural resources like land, water, and the climate by not buying more than we consume.
The UK is a net importer of food, so its food consumption does have a huge impact on land and resources elsewhere. Ensuring that that food does not go to waste helps (though does not guarantee!) increasing the availability of resources for food production elsewhere.


Perharps the best place to start off with saving food ( and not wasting) is right in our homes.  Once we develop this habit on a domestic level, it will trickle over onto the national, then international level.  I have seen hunger at its worst in my country, hence i always pack my leftover pudding, soup, gravy, rice, etc. for my maid who is a single mother. Atleast my concious feels better knowing there is one less person sleeping hungry.


Food waste recycling grand rapids mi, is an important area to be researched and developed as it can have a large impact on our landfills.


I would like to co-operative for all in his due respect.


Roughly how many restaurants and institutions participate in food waste collection grand rapids mi, anybody know?

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