Amidst the stress of Brexit and a seemingly uncertain future, other crucial issues can often fall off the table. One these is the ominous consequences of food waste.

Let’s take a moment to digest the horrifying fact that one third of the total amount of food produced globally is wasted.

That is equal to around 1.6 billion tons of fruit, vegetables, meat, dairy, seafood, and grains that go bad on the farm, get lost or spoiled during distribution or are thrown away in supermarkets, restaurants, and kitchens in our own home”

Worryingly it is also predicted that by 2030, annual food loss and waste will hit 2.1 billion tons, and shockingly – the current figures are high enough to feed every undernourished person on the planet several times over.

Within the UK specifically, food waste totals 10.2 million tonnes per year. And it is us who are culpable; our households waste around 7.1 million tonnes.

In a world where so many go hungry, it is unarguably disgraceful that we are wasting such vast amounts of food. Not only is it unethical, it also has an incredibly large impact on the environment, as food waste is responsible for about eight per cent of all human-caused greenhouse gas emissions.

These eye-opening statistics make it very clear that something needs to change, and fast. The first time I saw a landfill site in action, I felt utter despair. I recalled the saying ‘landfills are a Disneyland for birds’ – but what I saw was far from a fairytale as huge flocks of gulls descended upon the discarded matter. It was chaotic, noisy, smelly and unbelievable to comprehend the sheer mass of waste matter that we are responsible for.

Oxford Mail:

When wasted food goes to a landfill, it emits methane, a greenhouse gas 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide that contributes to the ever evident issue of climate change.

The Replenish Project aims to engage Oxfordshire people on the issue of food waste and composting. The project is funded by Oxfordshire County Council and delivered in partnership with Good Food Oxford and Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust (BBOWT).

The project supports volunteers to tackle food waste and promote composting in their communities. Volunteers in Abingdon and Witney are setting up community fridges. These are stocked with surplus food from supermarkets that is then freely available to all members of the community. These fridges have enormous potential to fight food poverty and food waste, with the average fridge rescuing over 7000kg of food a year. Other volunteers have organised food surplus cafes, creative cooking workshops and community composting schemes.

Oxford Mail:

Composting is a great way to reduce your food waste and contribution to greenhouse gas emissions, and is easier than you think. Put simply, compost is decaying organic matter and can range from a twig all the way through to an apple core, and even stale bread! When combined in a compost pile the items break down naturally into a nutrient-rich fertilizer that will help gardens remain healthy and grow well.

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Additionally, it will create a shelter for wildlife and become a habitat for a variety of minibeasts such as ants, butterflies, bees, or woodlice – which are in turn a great food source for animals like hedgehogs. I have had great fun with my young nephew and niece spotting various creepy crawlies in the garden, which are thriving thanks to a compost pile which the children enjoy helping their parents with.

If you’d like to give it a go too, you can find out more with BBOWT’s handy Compost Guide (

Thankfully it’s not all doom and gloom. Positively, DEFRA has urged the Government to include mandatory food waste collections in its forthcoming Resource and Waste strategy, as England’s recycling rate has unfortunately slowed down in recent years. Also, a pilot scheme for food waste minimisation was recently announced in the UK, the first part of which was launched in January this year, with a total of £15m of funding being provided to help charities redistribute surplus food to those who need it.

Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Michael Gove commented: “Nobody wants to see good food go to waste. It harms our environment, it’s bad for business – and it’s morally indefensible.”

According to Rethink Food Waste, educating people about food waste could prevent 2.3 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions – a staggering figure that would make a huge difference, and help the much needed recovery of our planet.

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In a society where excess, convenience and speed are increasingly at the forefront for consumers, small, mindful decisions that we make can have a much wider impact.

Personally I have started to be more aware of buying only what I need, freezing uneaten food, and am getting creative with leftovers. These are measures we can all easily take on a daily basis, and help us to do our bit for the environment. And I tell everyone I know, and anybody who’ll listen, because awareness is everything. There is no Planet B, and it sits with us to look after ours.

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Telsha Arora is Media and Campaigns Manager for the Berks, Bucks and Oxon Wildlife Trust