Did you know that if food waste were a country, it would be the third largest emitter of greenhouse gases? It quite literally feeds climate change – but the good news is, there is a lot you can do to help. In light of Earth Day, here are five ways to fight food waste every day.

According to Australia’s leading food rescue organisation OzHarvest, one third of all food produced globally is lost or wasted – the yearly equivalent of 23 million fully loaded trucks.

Uneaten food contributes to up to 10 percent of global greenhouse gases, as food rotting in landfill releases methane. That means that wasting food is worse than total emissions from flying, plastic production and oil extraction.

The irony is that while food waste costs the global economy nearly $1trillion USD each year, 690 million people still go hungry and three billion people can’t afford a healthy diet.

The UNEP Food Waste Index places Australia as the tenth most wasteful country in the world. Annually, we waste more than 7.6 million tonnes of food and cost the economy more than $36.6billion each year.

So, who’s to blame? According to OzHarvest, food waste is generated at every stage of the supply chain. A third is lost in primary production (like farms), a third in manufacturing, retail and hospitality, and a third in our homes.

We all have a role to play in fighting food waste, and we all stand to benefit. Eliminating it would save 4.4 million tonnes of CO2 per year – the equivalent to taking a 25 percent of cars off the road.

So, with all of this in mind and in light of Earth Day 2022, here are five ways you can prevent food waste in your home.

Make smart swaps

Before you rush off to the shops to buy the exact ingredient you need for your meal, have a look in your fridge/pantry and see what might work as a replacement. For instance, did you know that Greek yoghurt can be a great (and healthier) substitute for sour cream on tacos, pouring cream in macaroni and cheese? Or that naan bread or English muffins can make for delicious pizza bases?

Use it up

Reducing food waste calls for a little bit of creativity. That forgotten sweet potato could inspire your next burger night (hello, sweet potato fries!) or winter soup, while the jar of chutney that’s approaching its ‘three months after opening’ deadline is the perfect excuse to put together a cheese platter. Opening your fridge isn’t enough – you need to open your mind, too!

Over-ripe doesn’t mean rotten

Anyone who has made banana bread will cringe at the thought of someone throwing out brown bananas. A little ripeness makes the finished product so much sweeter! The same can be said for cut-up apples, pears and stone fruits – those brown bits are actually enzymes rising to the surface once it’s exposed to oxygen. Unless your fresh produce is mouldy or foul smelling, a little bruising or brownness means it’s still safe to eat.

Store it properly

While it’s important to use up what you have, it’s also helpful to ensure the items you do buy last as long as possible. Is there anything worse than grabbing that bag of spinach you bought two days ago, only to find it’s turned into a watery, green pile of mush? Yep, we’ve been there. From asparagus to spinach, we’ve listed some fool-proof ways to store your fresh produce and avoid food waste. Wean Green’s glass containers will be your best friend!

Plan and prep

Now that you’ve changed your mindset about using and buying food, it’s a good idea to establish a strategy to guide your shopping, cooking and eating habits. Meal prepping your lunches at the start of the week won’t just help you save food, but also time and money. You could also plan out the meals you’re going to have throughout the week to ensure you have everything you need and can easily see which dishes could use similar ingredients. Check out our guide to meal prep right here.

As with anything, the internet will be your best friend on your journey to fight food waste. It’s never been easier to find out which ingredients could make suitable substitutes, discover recipe ideas for any and all ingredients and download planners.