A fifth of food ends up in the bin without being eaten – with bread and milk most common

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Other foodstuffs likely to make their way into the trash include bananas, cucumbers, strawberries and potatoes.

The study of 2,000 adults, commissioned by Waitrose, found that one in seven (14 percent) forget to check use-by dates, while nearly one in ten buy more than they need in the first place.

And despite 67 percent taking care to plan their food shop for the week ahead in a bid to eliminate leftovers – more than a fifth forget about items they’ve bought until it’s too late.

The research also found eggs, yoghurt and cheese are commonly thrown away, along with fruit and vegetables such as tomatoes, mushrooms and oranges.

Not planning a supermarket shop, overestimating portion sizes, and buying food for recipes they don’t end up cooking are also among the reasons why households produce so much food waste.

Marija Rompani, director of ethics and sustainability at the John Lewis Partnership, said: “When we think of the triggers of global warming, we think about fumes pumping out from power stations, car exhausts or planes.

“But in fact, food waste creates six times more greenhouse gases than aviation. In addition, food system is a major driver of biodiversity loss.

The simple action of throwing food in the bin has more of a negative impact on our planet than people often realise

Marija Rompani, John Lewis Partnership Director of Ethics and Sustainability

“When we throw food away, we waste the precious resources it’s taken to grow, package and transport it – and as it rots in landfill, it produces methane, a greenhouse gas more potent than carbon dioxide.

“So the simple action of throwing food in the bin has more of a negative impact on our planet than people often realise.”

The research also found more than a third haven’t considered the impact that throwing away food has on the environment.

And the average adult bins gone-off foodstuffs three days a week.

More than one in ten confessed to “not thinking twice” about throwing away food, with a further 20 percent not feeling as guilty about binning fruit and veggies as they do meat.

And 71 percent think nothing of throwing away their fruit and vegetable peelings because they see no other use for them.

As a result, 81 percent discard their fruit and vegetable peelings, with 16 percent not seeing any nutritional benefit to these kinds of leftovers.

Yet three-quarters of those polled via OnePoll, claimed they were raised in a home where wastage was a big no-no.

Marija Rompani added: “Nobody buys food with the intention of throwing it in the bin, but with UK homes discarding 4.5 million tonnes of it every year, we clearly need to take more action.

“This is why, through our Partners Against Waste platform, we have pledged to halve food waste in our supply chain by 2030.

“We also sell oddly shaped vegetables in our A Little Less Than Perfect range, as well as forgotten cuts of meat, and will continue to work closely with FareShare to donate surplus food to vulnerable families across the UK.”

TOP 20 MOST COMMON FOOD ITEMS WHICH ARE THROWN AWAY AFTER GOING OFF:

  1. Salad leaves
  2. Bread
  3. Milk
  4. Bananas
  5. Cucumbers
  6. Strawberries
  7. Potatoes
  8. Eggs
  9. Tomatoes
  10. Carrots
  11. Cheese
  12. Yoghurt
  13. Mushrooms
  14. Cream
  15. Apples
  16. Fresh meat
  17. Oranges
  18. Onions
  19. Fresh fish
  20. Blueberries

TOP TIPS FROM WAITROSE TO ELIMINATE FOOD WASTE:

  1. Use your freezer as a store cupboard. Veg is frozen at the peak of freshness and having things like cauliflower, butternut squash, green beans, sweetcorn, spinach, peas and broad beans to hand will open up a world of mealtime possibilities.
  2. Think before you bin. If you’re about to throw something away, think first if it can be put to another use. Will it go in stock? Can it be frozen? Can it be turned into the next day’s packed lunch?
  3. Make a list. Write down what you need before you go shopping and stick to it. This stops you buying the things which are often the items that end up in the bin.
  4. Plan your menu. Plan your menu for the week (or for the next few days). Don’t consider meals in isolation – think of how one meal will feed into the next and how you can employ your store cupboard and your freezer to reinvigorate leftovers.
  5. Stock cupboards. Keep a cupboard full of useful spices, herbs, cans and carbs which can help turn today’s leftovers into tomorrow’s lunch.
  6. Use your veg peelings. Making your own stock can use up loads of leftovers, from tired and wilted veg to carrot peelings and chicken carcasses and will make a huge difference to the flavour of the food you cook.
  7. Get the size right. Don’t overcompensate on portion size. It’s better to put on slightly less pasta or rice than you think you’ll need. Often, that extra bit you think you should add to the pot – just in case – is the bit that ends up in the bin.
  8. Build in wiggle room. Plan at least one meal a week using tinned or frozen items, so if your plans change and you’re not going to be at home for dinner one evening, you won’t be wasting any fresh ingredients.
  9. Store your food so it lasts. When you get your shopping home, make sure you store it appropriately. Even veg such as carrots keep longer in the fridge. Not using those chicken breasts for three days? Then pop them in the freezer.
  10. Know your dates. You can safely ignore the best-before, display-by and sell-by dates on packaging. Use-by is the only one you need.

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