It's Zero Waste Week, an international initiative now in its 10th year, designed to raise awareness of the environmental impact of the things we throw away – and teach us all how to consume more mindfully. In the UK, we have a particular problem with food – British households throw away around 4.4m tonnes (that's £13bn worth) every year, meaning we've likely all been guilty at some point.
Users can input how often they buy fresh fruit and veg – from avocados and raspberries to asparagus and spinach – and estimate how much of this ends up in the bin each month. The tool then works out the environmental impact as well as how much damage it's doing to your bank balance. It's eye-opening stuff.
Let's say I threw away three avocados, two packs of blueberries, three bananas, one pineapple, one lemon, two grapefruits, a pack of celery, two cucumbers and four packs of spinach each month and did this for a whole year. According to the tool, I'd waste £231 annually and my CO2 footprint would be 34.65kg/CO2e (that's the same carbon footprint as your Christmas turkey). The verdict is that I "could do better" and am wasting more fruit and veg than the average person.
The tool bases its calculations on data from UK government agencies and standard fruit and veg packaging weights and sizes, so while it won't be 100% accurate it provides a handy estimate of all the cash you're burning on blackened avocados and shrivelled-up courgettes.
It's not always easy food shopping as a young person with a job and unpredictable life, which may explain why so many of us are getting it wrong. Thankfully there's a new wave of food waste apps, such as Karma and Olio, which are tackling the problem. These let you buy discounted restaurant food at a reduced price (Karma) and share food among the local community (Olio), spicing up your dinner and saving you money.