7 simple steps we can all take to reduce food waste

food waste

(Credit: Unsplash)

This article is brought to you thanks to the collaboration of The European Sting with the World Economic Forum.

Author: Andy Dunn, Writer, Formative Content


  • Millions of people worldwide suffer from malnutrition, yet 1.3 billion tonnes of food is thrown away each year.
  • The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization has put out a list of simple yet effective ways we can all reduce food waste.
  • From buying ‘ugly’ fruit and vegetables to rearranging your fridge.

Most people at some time have bought too much food during weekly shopping and been left with rotting vegetables at the bottom of the fridge.

But what many don’t realize is the scale of the problem: each year, around 1.3 billion tonnes of food produced for human consumption – enough to feed those going hungry worldwide – is thrown away.

Food crises were identified as a significant risk in this year’s World Economic Forum Global Risks Report.

The situation has been further exacerbated by the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, which closed restaurants and disrupted supply chains.

The First International Day of Awareness of Food Loss and Waste next month (29 September) will make a clear call to action to bolster efforts to reduce food loss and waste. With millions suffering malnutrition, the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has put out a list of simple, yet sensible, steps we can all take to change our habits:

1) Buy only what you need. Make a list and stick to it.

2) Don’t be prejudiced. Purchase ‘ugly’ or irregularly shaped fruit and vegetables that are just as good but look a little different.

Food waste
Food waste
Image: FAO

3) Check your fridge. Store food between 1-5°C for maximum freshness and shelf-life.

4) First in, first out. When you stack up your fridge and cupboards, move older products to the front and place newer ones in the back.

5) Understand dates. ‘Use by’ indicates a date by which the food is safe to be eaten, while ‘best before’ means the food’s quality is best prior to that date, but it is still safe to eat after that date.

6) Leave nothing behind. Keep leftovers for another meal or use them in a different dish.

7) Donate any surplus to others.

A 2018 study forecast that by 2030, food waste could have soared by a third, with more than 2 billion tonnes being binned. The UN, meanwhile, has set a target of halving food loss and waste by that date.

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