Our food is grown by farmers across the world and goes through major distribution routes to get into our households. We rely on an army of people to produce our food and yet 6.5 million tonnes of it every year is discarded in the UK. More than half of this is edible, not egg shells or bones.

Saving food definitely means saving money, but also helps to slow down global warming, reduces water consumption, leaves more nutrients in soils, provides more space for biodiversity and reduces energy use. Energy is used to grow the products, package them, transport them to your house, and then to cook them, and this is true whether the food is grown locally or in another country. All food wasted has used up this energy to no purpose and then can create more greenhouse gases during disposal.

The waste hierarchy asks us to think about reducing production of waste before considering reuse, recycling, transforming and finally disposal of our waste materials. Food waste is one of those areas where the waste hierarchy really comes into its own.

Reducing Your Food Waste

The Love Food Hate Waste campaign, https://www.lovefoodhatewaste.com/ contains abundant material to help plan the shopping, use up leftovers, find new recipes for that odd collection of stuff in the fridge. Perhaps the most useful, particularly in the time of Covid when many people are shopping less frequently, is their A-Z guide on best storage method for different foods, whether freezing is possible, how to keep things fresher for longer and ideas for using up bits and pieces. It also tells you how long you can keep things after the “best before” date has past.


After reducing the overall quantity, what do you do with what’s left?

This year Reading Borough Council has introduced a food waste collection system with the aim of extending these across the Borough. Households have been given full instructions, a kitchen caddy and a food waste bin with a close fitting lid that is vermin-proof. The bin is emptied weekly and the food waste goes to an anaerobic digestion plant for electricity generation with the residues going to farmland.

Problem solved? Nope.

For some households this will be the most sensible and practical solution. However, this can produce valuable nutrients that will benefit your garden plants and the microorganisms in the soil. Why send your potential soil food away and then buy in fertiliser or compost?

There are umpteen different systems of creating soil food at home either with or without green waste from the garden. The pdf below gives you three options in our order of overall benefit to your garden, pocket and climate change, but the right choice for YOU depends upon your household and outside space. They are all enclosed systems that keep vermin out.

If you’re interested in ways to create your own Soil Food at home check out this PDF for some handy top tips.

You can purchase a huge range of equipment for these options and others through evengreener.com as well as via the council, and there is lots of advice there as well, but If you have a composting/fermentation problem that needs an answer then please email our experts at nature@readingcan.org.uk  and we’ll get back to you.

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