Tips for reducing food waste this Christmas2023-12-13
It is that time of the year when we indulge a lot more in food. Not only are we buying and eating more, we are also wasting more.
– During major food holidays, we tend to buy a little extra and things we don't normally use, increasing the risk of waste, says Helén Williams at the Service Research Center (CTF) at Karlstad University. Planning is key to minimise food waste, and save money.
Households account for the largest share of food waste in Sweden. Although the amount of waste has decreased somewhat in recent years, there is still significant room for improvement, according to Helén Williams, who is an associate professor in Environment and Energy Systems and conducts research on how food packaging can held reduce food waste.
High food prices can encourage less waste
Celebrations and holidays are high-risk events where more people tend to throw out more food. Now, with Christmas food more expensive than ever, it means a larger chunk of people’s money ends up in the trash
– We cook for more people, which makes it difficult to estimate how much is needed, so we buy a little extra just to be safe, says Helén Williams. We also buy more of thing that we don't normally use. All of this contributes to the risk of throwing away more food. Spending time together during Christmas and New Year is important for many of us, and food often takes center stage. But is all the excess really necessary? Perhaps in a time of high food prices and a global situation indicating awareness, we can consume what we buy.
Discarding food that has been cultivated, processed, and transported has a significant impact on the climate and the environment. Today, food production accounts for a third of all greenhouse gas emissions worldwide. Two-thirds of all freshwater usage is within agriculture, and unsustainable food production is also the main reason why so many species in nature are threatened. It is high time that we take food waste seriously, says Helén Williams.
Four tips for reducing food waste
It is possible to enjoy delicious food and still have a more sustainable Christmas. Here, Helén Williams shares her best tips that can make a difference for both the environment and your wallet.
- Plan and choose thoughtfully: Plan what you want to serve on the Christmas table and buy items you know will be consumed – don't blindly follow old traditions. Small packages may be better than large ones because there is a better chance that all the food in the package will be eaten.
- Store food correctly: Keep any food that is served and left sitting out warm or cold for longer durability. Cool the food down quickly for longer shelf life. Consider lowering the refrigerator temperature to 4 degrees; in some cases, it can double the shelf life compared to 8 degrees.
- Take care of leftovers: Develop a strategy for how to deal with your leftovers. Freeze them or send guests home with food.
- Organise the fridge: Clear out and clean the fridge for a better overview. Designate a specific shelf for food that needs to be consumed quickly and make a container in the freezer for leftovers that you can then turn into something new.