This bad habit is costing you over $1,000 a year

Posted: 24 November 2021 4:33 pm
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We're wasting 11% of the food we buy, and it's hurting our bank balance as well as the planet.

If you find yourself having to throw away some of the food in your fridge at the end of the week before you've had time to use it, you're not alone. The average Australian household throws away 11% of the food they buy, according to Rabobank's latest Financial Health Barometer report. Collectively this is adding up to $10.3 billion a year in wasted food.

You might think that 11% of your food going to waste isn't that significant, but let's take a look at what it looks like in a bit more detail.

On an individual level, our food waste is costing the average household $1,038 a year. This is the equivalent of throwing a $20 note straight in the bin each week. To give you an idea of the quantity of food we're wasting, it's around 6 average weekly trips to the supermarket each year straight into the bin.

Food waste is bad for the environment too

Not only is our food waste costing us money, but it's also having a negative impact on the environment. According to the report, food waste is responsible for 8% of global greenhouse gas emissions. When food goes into our regular landfill, it decomposes and releases methane into the atmosphere, which is a major contributor to climate change.

According to an earlier release of this report, the amount of water used to grow the food that we waste in 1 year is equivalent to 4,400 times the capacity of Sydney Harbour. And this is just water use for the wasted food. We're also destroying huge amounts of forest so that we have more space to grow the food that we ultimately don't eat. The report found that we're cutting down 6 soccer fields worth of forest every single minute to grow the amount of food that is wasted by Australian households.

A way to help combat this is to start composting your food scraps. While no food waste is the optimal goal, this isn't always realistic, so if you're going to have some waste it's much better off going in the compost than into landfill. Here are 4 food compost options you can try out.

How to waste less food (and less money)

The most common food we end up wasting is vegetables, followed by bread and bakery items, and fruit. This isn't particularly surprising, given these items have a shorter shelf life than other packaged foods. However, it does suggest that we're perhaps buying a little bit more than we need in our weekly shop, or we're not organising our meals well enough throughout the week.

Here are a few ways to be more organised and reduce your food waste:

  • Use a shopping list. According to the report, you can save $141 a year simply by using a shopping list (and sticking to it).
  • Use your leftovers. You could save $364 by using your leftovers for lunches and different meals instead of throwing them in the bin.
  • Make smaller servings. Sometimes our eyes are bigger than our stomach when plating up a meal size. Making smaller servings could save you over $400 a year, by avoiding waste.

Reducing your food waste is just 1 way to save money. For more ideas, check out our saving guide with 50 easy money-saving tips. Or for more tips to reduce your carbon footprint, head to Finder Green.

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