According to the National Environmental Agency, a whopping 0.786 million tonnes of food went to waste in 2015. Food waste makes up about 10 per cent of the total waste generated in Singapore, but only 13 per cent of it is recycled. The figures are troubling, as the amount of food waste has increased by almost 50 per cent in the past 10 years, and is expected to grow further.
WHY REDUCE FOOD WASTE?
Cutting down on food waste not only saves you money, but also reduces odour and the spread of vermin in your estate. Food waste also often contaminates recyclable items, thereby hindering recycling efforts. By being conscious about this, you also conserve energy and resources expended in the process of growing, manufacturing, transporting and selling food.
HOW TO REDUCE FOOD WASTE.
■ Shop smart and realistically:
The first and probably most important step in combating food waste is to buy only what you need. Before you embark on your grocery trip, make a weekly meal plan so that you have an idea of the types and amounts of ingredients you need. This not only saves you time in the long run, but is also good for your finances.
■ Store food appropriately:
Storing your food and vegetables in the right places helps keep them fresh longer, minimising wastage. If you buy in bulk, divide ingredients into meal-sized portions before freezing them.
■ Cook only what you need:
Asians tend to cook more than they can eat at social events to show abundance and hospitality. Be realistic when preparing your meals.
■ Keep and eat leftover food:
Refrigerate or freeze your leftover food. To keep track of their freshness, date and label the containers.
■ Treat expiry dates as guidelines:
Expiry dates are not set in stone. Trust your sense of smell, sight and taste to determine if the food is still edible.
■ Try canning and pickling:
Canning and pickling vegetables such as cucumbers and tomatoes can extend their shelf life by months.
■ Composting as the last resort:
If all else fails, add your inedible food waste to your compost pile instead of condemning them to the rubbish bin.
Text GWEN LEE Photo 123RF.