Many people are unaware of the current food wastage situation in the country and how this can have detrimental impacts on the environment. Here in Singapore, each household generates an average of 1.5kg of food waste daily—most of which could have been prevented.
While the government is active in implementing various recycling programmes, only 18% of all food wastage is actually recycled while the rest is taken for incineration.
Incineration is essentially a waste treatment process that converts organic substances from waste materials to generate reusable energy.
While we can rely on our world-class waste management systems, it’s not enough to be over-reliant on these solutions and neglect the role we have to play in striving for a greener Singapore.
What Are Some Common Sources Of Food Waste?
1. Business food wastage
From hawker centres to catering businesses, food establishments are one of the most common sources of food waste.
Unfortunately, many restaurants and catering companies are obligated to throw out food at the end of the day due to health and safety reasons, although they may have not been touched yet.
Believe it or not, supermarkets throw out more food than you think. The general supermarket business model believes that it’s better to have more than less.
From a business perspective, being fully stocked is an indication that the grocery store is performing well in meeting the demands of their customers. However, since the supply exceeds the demand, most of these goods go to waste.
3. Supply chain loss from farms
As you walk down the supermarket aisles, you’ll realise that most produce appears to be identically-shaped and uniform. What you don’t know is that before anything makes its way to the shelves, they go through a rigorous cosmetic filtering process, which removes foods that don’t look up to standard.
If it looks “ugly” or “not perfect enough” for consumption, straight to the trash it goes.
4. Our own homes
Finally, food wastage can also come from our homes. From excess food from family gatherings as well as careless disposing of food scraps, there are more ways in which we generate food waste than we realise.
Fortunately, there are a variety of steps that you can do to combat this problem. Here 7 easy and effective ways that can help you reduce your food waste at home!
7 Simple Ways To Minimise Our Food Wastage
1. Save Your Leftovers
Who said leftovers were meant exclusively for parties only? While most of us have no problem saving excess food from large meals and gatherings, try to store your leftovers in clear glass containers instead of opaque ones so you don’t forget them.
Besides reheating food at home or in the office, you can also use your leftovers to make brand new dishes. Having the same meal twice or more can be tiresome for some, so this solution makes use of what you already have while turning it into something new.
2. Only Buy What You Need
It can be extremely tempting to buy in bulk when shopping for groceries. However, studies suggest that this actually generates more waste. On top of that, impulse buying also contributes to this same problem. The next time you make a trip to the grocery store, avoid making unnecessary purchases and only buy what you need.
Rather than bulk buying in one trip, make it a point to make more frequent trips to the store instead and ensure that you use up most of your food before buying more groceries. If it helps, try making a grocery list and stick to it to avoid impulse buys.
3. Store Your Food Correctly
Did you know that something as simple as storing your food correctly increases its shelf life significantly? Improper storage causes food to spoil at a faster rate, leading to multiple problems such as mould and bacteria growth. As a result, you will be forced to dispose of your food even if you have barely touched or used it at all.
Knowing your foods’ optimum storing temperatures is also key to keeping your produce fresh for long. For instance, dairy products like eggs and milk should always be stored in the fridge while it’s best to keep fruits by your cupboard at room temperature.
4. Plan Your Meals Ahead Of Time
It’s a known fact that meal prepping allows you to control your daily food portions, which can lead to a healthier diet. But on top of that, ensuring that your portion sizes are just the right amount also reduces food waste altogether.
By planning your meals ahead of time, you will find lesser leftovers and food scraps on your plate over time.
5. Check The Use-by Date Of Your Fresh Foods & Canned Produce
In a joint study conducted by the Singapore Environment Council (SEC) and consulting firm Deloitte in 2019, findings revealed that nearly 26,000 tonnes of food were thrown away from households even before it was cooked, which consisted of mostly expired goods.
Check the expiration date of your food regularly. Rather than focusing on the best-before dates, pay closer attention to the use-by dates instead. While both terms are similar, use-by dates are more reliable as it tells you that the product may not be at its best quality beyond the listed date.
Make it a conscious habit to use your best judgement when deciding whether goods slightly past their expiration date are still safe to eat.
6. Make Soup Or Broths From Excess Scraps
Before you think of tossing your kitchen scraps into the bin, think again. Making homemade soups and broths with excess food scraps is an effective way to reduce waste.
With leftover vegetable peelings, leaves, and stalks, you can make delicious vegetable stock from scratch. By making your own, you also save more money than having to buy store-packed products.
In this way, not only are you preventing excess food from ending up in the trash, but you are also making new dishes with it. It’s like turning trash into treasure!
7. Compost Your Fruit & Vegetable Scraps To Make Fertiliser
Composting leftover scraps is a simple way to turn food into fertiliser for homegrown plants. Regardless of whether you live on a landed property or a high-rise flat, there are multiple options for you to get started. While composting food is commonly done outdoors, there are various countertop composting systems that are suitable for individuals with limited space.
Some examples of items you can compost include non-animal food scraps like fruit and vegetable peelings, bread, old herbs and spices, and even tea leaves and coffee grounds.
Here’s a quick video that shows you how to compost food scraps at home.
Do Your Part For the Earth by Making the Switch
Now that we are aware of the negative effects food wastage has on our environment, it is essential that we do our part to adopt more sustainable practices, be it with reducing our food waste, cutting down on single-use plastic, or opting for secondhand clothing.
Another simple way that we can do our part for the earth is to make the switch to an environmentally-friendly electricity provider.
As Singapore’s biggest green electricity retailer, iSwitch offers 100% carbon-neutral electricity that is not just safe for the earth but also for your wallet.
With our affordable and eco-friendly residential plans, you’ll be saving money and the environment all at the same time!