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Curbing food waste is good for our wallets and our world

Olivia Jenkins, August 4, 2021 6:30PM News Corp Australia

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Australia’s staggering food wastage is an environmental and economic problem. media_cameraAustralia’s staggering food wastage is an environmental and economic problem.

environment

Reading level: green

Australian families are throwing away thousands of dollars worth of unwanted food every year.

Data has found food waste is costing households about $3800 a year, or $965 per person.

The survey of 2800 people, from Central Queensland University’s (CQU) Fight Food Waste Cooperative Research Centre, also revealed bread, cheese, beef and salad were the foods most likely to be chucked.

CQU researcher Dr Gamithri Karunasena said most households did not know how much money they were putting in the bin, or the environmental costs of wasting food.

media_cameraThe survey reveals that Australians are adding 4kg of uneaten food to landfill every week.

“You’re losing your money but on top of that, you’re actually destroying the planet,” Dr Karunasena said.

“One of the best things that comes out of stopping food wastage is that you save money, which you can spend on buying other things like groceries or entertainment.

“Plus, you’re saving the planet so that your children have a place to live.”

The study showed while people thought they were dumping 2.03kg of food waste per household per week, they were actually ditching more than 4kg of uneaten food.

Food waste across homes and businesses costs Australia $20 billion every year.

A Sustainability* Victoria spokeswoman said wastage could be prevented by storing food correctly, but staples* such as bread continued to be thrown away in excess.

“Research shows that for every loaf of bread eaten, half a loaf is thrown away,” the spokeswoman said.

media_cameraBread is one of Australia’s most wasted food items, with research showing that for every loaf, half is thrown away.

A new national body was set up last year to halve food wastage by 2030.

The $4 million Stop Food Waste initiative brought together farmers, retailers, governments and individuals to focus on prevention and recycling food waste.

Federal Environment Minister Sussan Ley said clearer food packaging would help cut back on the “millions of tonnes” of wasted food dumped in landfills every year.

“When we waste food, we also waste the precious resources that are used to make it: land, water and the work of our farmers, plus the energy used to process, package and transport the food from farm to fork,” Ms Ley said.

“By reducing food waste, we can improve business bottom lines, put money back into household budgets and make better use of our natural ­resources.”

Mum of two Marian said she planned her meals weekly for Eddie, 14, and Luca, 10, to crush the cost of other expenses, after calculating more than $3500 in potential savings each year.

“That’s about 747 coffees a year I could be enjoying at my local cafe, or putting that towards my mortgage*, or saving up in a year for a holiday,” she said.

GLOSSARY

  • sustainability: the integrated system between environmental health, social equity and economy
  • staples: basic goods, necessities
  • mortgage: legal agreement between a bank lending money to a homebuyer

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QUICK QUIZ

  1. What is food wastage costing the average household per year?
  2. What is the average weight of the food each household throws out every week?
  3. How much does food wastage cost Australia each year?
  4. How much of the average loaf of bread is currently thrown away?
  5. How many coffees could mum Marian buy with her savings?

LISTEN TO THIS STORY

CLASSROOM ACTIVITIES
1. Calculate the food wastage cost for your household
In the article, it states that food waste in Australia is calculated at $965 per person. Do the calculation to work out how much that equals for your family. (965 x number of people in your house). Take this figure home to your family and suggest three or more ways to reduce food waste in your house:

1.
2.
3.

Time: allow 20 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English, Mathematics, Critical and Creative Thinking

2. Extension
Bread, cheese, beef and salad were the most likely items to be thrown away according to this survey. Why do you think these items are so often wasted? How could you ensure they are more likely to be used rather than thrown in the rubbish bin?

Instead of throwing out food, what is a better way to keep it out of landfill?

Time: allow 10 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English, Critical and Creative Thinking

VCOP ACTIVITY
1. Summarise the article
A summary is a brief statement of the main points of something. It does not usually include extra detail or elaborate on the main points.

Use the 5W & H model to help you find the key points of this article. Read the article carefully to locate who and what this article is about, and where, when, why and how this is happening. Once you have located this information in the article, use it to write a paragraph that summarises the article.

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