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Waste not want not

Waste not want not

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Food wastage has been an issue for a long time, SIMON WEBSTER reports.

Over at Treehugger, blogger Lloyd Alter has put up a selection of posters dating back to the world wars, when food wastage was considered so serious a problem that it warranted a public information campaign.

If the message sank in at the time, it has been long forgotten. According to the Foodwise campaign, Australians waste more then 4 million tonnes of food a year, worth $7.8 billion.

That’s 178 kilograms per person. Or put another way, about 15 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions that could be avoided.

For anyone who composts (or has chickens) it’s hard to imagine that the single largest component of kerbside rubbish bins is food. But according to NSW Government research it’s true.

Growing your own food leads to less waste: you can leave herbs and perennial vegetables, and to some extent annuals, in the ground until you need them, rather than have them rotting in the fridge or pantry. And when you’ve put months of blood, sweat and tears into growing a head of broccoli, you tend to respect it, rather than treat it is something disposable.

However, all of us are guilty of waste. According to that NSW research, the main reasons people waste food are:

We cook too much food

  • Food goes off before the use-by/best-before date
  • We forget about leftovers in the fridge or freezer
  • We don’t know how to use leftovers
  • We buy too much because we don’t stick to a shopping list
  • We don’t check the cupboard or fridge before going shopping
  • We’re not planning our meals and menus as much as we could.


Head to for tips on avoiding these traps. And consider getting those posters up in our workplace and home kitchens again.