Reducing food waste

As an eco-minded citizen you can look at a variety of ways to reduce your carbon footprint. You may cycle instead of drive, shop locally, grow your own and limit your air-flights. You may not realise that reducing your food waste can make a significant difference to climate change.

Food waste contributes around 8-10% of the total global emissions, according to a report prepared the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The IPCC is the body of the United Nations who assess the science related to Climate Change. The report states that 25-30% of all food produced is either wasted or lost.

Food waste is a problem because food sent to landfill rots and produces methane, a greenhouse gas that is more potent that carbon dioxide. There is also the waste of energy and water that goes into growing, harvesting and transporting the products, plus the packaging waste.

As a consumer there are some simple and practical steps you can take, starting with the most important one - buy less. Also plan your meals, freeze food as it approaches the end of its life, save (and eat) leftovers, keep your fridge and cupboards organised and clutter free. If you do have food waste it can make its way to the compost or bokashi bin.

You will find some other great ideas on the Love Food Hate Waste page, this NZ based organisation are working with Local Governments and community groups to help us all reduce our food waste.

In an ideal world, food production would equal our consumption but we are a long way from this. In the meantime, if we can redirect the surplus food that would go to landfill we are making a positive difference. There are a range of providers partnering with supermarkets and other food producers to meet this need.

Kai Rescue is one such initiative that the Nelson Environment Centre is proud to operate. In was established in 2017 in response to this issue and we have rescued over 240 tonnes of food to date. The best part is that this food ends up on the tables and bellies of those who need it most in our community.

During September we will be hosting a month-long appeal to help secure funding for this important programme. You can get involved by hosting a Kai Day Friday event in your office, home or community group – email to register your interest. Or you can make a donation via

Jess Ettridge