Sunday, 16 October 2011

Food Waste and Planning

Image by Colleen Lane, used under Creative Commons licence

Over lunch today, I've been listening to a BBC Women's Hour podcast from October 11th and there is a very interesting discussion about waste, and in particular food waste. I found two things very interesting. The first was a woman who said that she didn't use a shopping list and just shopped "with her eyes", which is a great way of putting it! Later on, she went on to say that she kept buying melons because they looked nice, and then putting them on the counter and watching them rot. So now she doesn't buy melons.

The second thing was not something that was mentioned on the programme, per se, but something I realised from listening to it. I would not say that I haven't thrown any food away since I came back to university and started meal planning, using my freezer and shopping for food that appears on my meal planning and nothing extra, but certainly I have thrown away very little. The biggest amount of food waste has been throwing away the pears that I was given unexpectedly when I moved in - I cooked a huge amount of them, and ate several as snacks or desserts, but in the end there were half a dozen or so that I didn't manage to get to before they went off. It feels wrong to throw away what had been perfectly good (and delicious) fruit, but on the other hand I'm glad that it's food that is biodegradable and not going to sit on a waste dump for centuries.

Other than that, I was going to say that the only item I've actively purchased and then thrown away is bread, because I have two slices of bread in the cupboard that I bought two weeks ago and haven't eaten (but hadn't thrown away yet). Then I remembered that I had planned to use that bread to make breadcrumbs. So perhaps even that won't be thrown away.

I'm in no sense a paragon of recycling virtue. I haven't managed to work out whether or not we can recycle paper here (I think not - which seems ludicrous in an educational environment, we must use tonnes of paper every year) and despite always starting a recycling corner in my room, I've never yet actually transferred it to the recycling bins. It's sat there for weeks if not months, and then I've got cross with it and put it into a bin bag.

Perhaps this year will be different, though. I've heard rumours of a recycling bin system within the college grounds, where you just take your cans and put them into the big indoor bin for a volunteer to sort. I feel a little guilty leaving my rubbish for others to deal with, but since I haven't managed to figure the system out for myself it's probably better than not recycling at all.

And for all my freezer does to make my life simpler, cheaper and more delicious, I have to admit that I have been tempted to smash it into tiny pieces for the awful whirring noises it's taken to making. It's loud during the day. It's deafening at night. If you have any idea how to stop it (it didn't do this before!), I'd love to know!

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