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Eat sustainably

Changing your diet, the way you shop for food, and how you dispose of food waste is a powerful way to take environmental action.

Reduce and recycle food waste

It’s estimated that one-third of all the food produced in the world goes to waste. That’s equal to about 1.3 billion tons of fruits, vegetables, meat, dairy, seafood, and grains that either never leave the farm, get lost or spoiled during distribution, or are thrown away in hotels, grocery stores, restaurants, schools, or home kitchens. It could be enough calories to feed every undernourished person on the planet. 

But wasted food isn't just a humanitarian concern, it's an environmental one. When we waste food, we also waste all the energy and water it takes to grow, harvest, transport, and package it. If food goes to landfill and rots, it produces methane, a greenhouse gas more potent than carbon dioxide. About 6 to 8% of all human-caused greenhouse gas emissions could be reduced if we stop wasting food.  

Since around 30% of household waste is food waste, there are many ways you can reduce and recycle food waste at home: 

Think before you shop:

  • what do you actually need? 
  • what’s already in your fridge?  
  • who’s in and who’s out? 

Stay in control whilst shopping:

  • remember to take your shopping list
  • set your budget before you go shipping
  • if provided, use the ‘quick scan’ handheld facility in-store

Store food correctly:

Keep an eye on your fresh food:

  • introduce a ‘eat me first’ fridge shelf
  • freestyle ‘use up food’ meal
  • get date label savvy, ‘use by’ is about food safety’, ‘best before’ is about food quality

Eat every piece of edible food:

  • eat all the edible parts of your food, for example potato peels and cauliflower leaves  
  • make your own stock from edible bits you’d normally throw away by simmering them in water for 20 minutes
  • plan time to defrost meat safely

Plan your meals:

  • create a flexible meal plan around who’s going to be eating each day
  • when you have time, batch cook meals and store them in the freezer 

Give surplus food away: 

Recycle any remaining food waste:

Reduce takeaway food packaging:

  • ‘DabbaDrop’ deliver weekly set menus of convenient, tasty plant-based takeaway in reusable stainless-steel tiffins (which are called dabbas in Hindi) by bike to customers all over London. Find out more about 'DabbaDrop' here.  

We are proud to support 'Eat Like a Londoner'. It is a first-of-its-kind food platform designed to help Londoners shop, cook, and eat better, more sustainably, more cost-effectively, and more deliciously. With recipes, hacks, tips, and tricks, from experts and locals alike, this is the ultimate destination for anyone looking for new ways to cook, plan or save food. Check out the 'Eat like a Londoner' website to find out more

Eat plant-based

To reduce your environmental impact, eat fewer or smaller portions of meat, especially beef and lamb. You can also reduce your consumption of dairy products or switch them for non-dairy alternatives. Studies suggest that a high-fibre, plant-based diet is better for your health, and replacing meat with protein-rich pulses can also be cost-effective.  

Check out this chart from Our World in Data, which compares the climate footprint of many meat, dairy and plant-based products, and this BBC tool to find out the emissions impact of different foods. Reducing your meat and dairy consumption by just one or two servings a week can have a big impact. 

When eating out, you can plan ahead by use apps like Happy Cow to find more plant-based options.

Eat fresh, seasonal and local

When you do your food shop, it is also worth considering how the food was grown and the distance it has travelled before reaching the supermarket. Choose fresh, seasonal produce that is grown locally helps reduce the carbon emissions from transportation, preservation, and prolonged refrigeration.  

Check out Hubbub’s month-by-month guide on British seasonal fruit and veg here. 

Buy in bulk

Consider using a local veg box scheme, buying from a zero-waste shop, and setting up a buying group with friends to bulk-buy more affordable, non-perishable wholefoods to reduce food packaging.  

Choose Fairtrade

Fairtrade works with farmers and workers in more than 1,900 producer organisations, across 70 countries, so they can improve their living standards, invest in their communities and businesses, and protect our shared environment. Fairtrade sets social, economic and environmental standards for the companies and farmers involved in the supply chain. 

There are over 6,000 Fairtrade products from coffee and tea to flowers and gold, so when you shop, look for the FAIRTRADE Mark. Find a guide to buying Fairtrade on the Fairtrade Foundation website here.  

Carry reusables

Carry a reusable water bottle and/or coffee cup and ideally a food container in case you come across some surplus food after an event, from a friend, or when eating out.  

Use apps to make the most of your reusables, for example refill to identify local refill stations. 

Published: 28 May 2024

Last updated: 7 June 2024