A new campaign from OzHarvest starts in your refrigerator

OzHarvest founder Ronni Kahn AO said Australias national target to halve food waste by 2030 is looming fast. Picture: Supplied
OzHarvest founder Ronni Kahn AO said Australias national target to halve food waste by 2030 is looming fast. Picture: Supplied

Somedays I like to think of them as lockdown leftovers but more often than not my refrigerator is full of food which will end up in the bin. There are only so many days you can eat the same thing in a row and who hasn't been experimenting with every whacky recipe that calls for one-quarter of a teaspoon of some spice you know you'll never use again.

But food waste is no joke. More than 2.5 million tonnes of food are wasted in homes every year, let alone what is wasted commercially.

September 29 is the United Nation's International Food Loss and Waste Day and leading food rescue organisation OzHarvest has launched a new campaign to encourage us to "use it up".

OzHarvest founder and chief executive officer Ronni Kahn said Australia's national target to halve food waste by 2030 is looming fast and change was urgently needed.

"We cannot watch what's happening to our planet and wait for others to fix this - tackling household food waste is the low hanging fruit and where we can get results fast," she said.

"Not everyone can afford an electric car or solar panels but reducing the amount of food we waste is something we are all able to do. People are blown away when they learn the number one thing they can do to take climate action starts right now in their kitchen."

It's a simple idea where a colourful tape is stuck on the food which should be used next. The paper tape is recyclable and reusable. The program also includes tips and recipes for reducing food waste.

"Use It Up! may sound simple but eating what you have in your fridge is the most impactful way you can save food, save money and save the planet," says Kahn.

"The Use It Up tape is available on our website, but we also encourage people to create their own Use It Up shelf or make their own version of the tape at home.

"Once you see what food needs using up, it can lead to many other great ways to help reduce your waste."

Kahn said the OzHarvest mantra of look, buy, store, cook is the easiest way to reduce waste.

"Look at what food you have before you go shopping, write a list and plan your meals.

"Buy only what you need, remembering to take your list, and avoid making snap-decision purchases that may ultimately be wasted.

"Store food correctly to make it last longer. Did you know most fruit lasts much longer in the fridge instead of the fruit bowl. Buy some good airtight containers to store any leftovers.

"Cook food that needs using first, get creative and google a recipe if you're not sure what to cook, love your leftovers and don't forget to eat them up."

Kahn said reducing food waste at home is a crucial part of the overall picture.

"People are genuinely blown away when I tell them if food waste were a country, it would be the third-largest emitter of carbon after the US and China," she says.

"Unfortunately, few people are aware of the facts, especially the connection between food waste and climate change. It's a huge cause of global greenhouse gases, around 10 per cent which is more than emissions from producing plastic, extracting oil and flying.

"Tackling climate change can feel like a daunting task, and some people may even feel powerless to help. But when they learn that reducing food waste is the number one thing they can do to take climate action and they can start today in their kitchen, they feel empowered to do something. With Use It Up, we are giving them the tools to do just that."

At home Kahn loves a good fridge clear out.

"Frittata is my go-to recipe," she says. "I can use up all my vegetables and any other bits and pieces that might be lurking around. I roast up all the veggies with olive oil, salt and plenty of herbs then throw them all in the pan with whisked up eggs and crumble in a bit of cheese. "

Use up these commonly wasted foods with the help of the Use It Up tape. Picture: Supplied

Use up these commonly wasted foods with the help of the Use It Up tape. Picture: Supplied

She says OzHarvest has been busier than ever during the pandemic.

"The impact of the pandemic has meant so many new people are facing food insecurity for the first time in their lives, which is heartbreaking," she says.

"Our whole organisation had to pivot and adapt, often daily, as we saw food rescue volumes fluctuate and demand go through the roof.

"We've introduced new emergency food relief services, including mobile markets, cooked meals and we're now packing and distributing more than 10,000 hampers a week to the most affected LGAs in Sydney.

"Our education team have adapted programs to run online and many of our volunteers could not do their usual shifts due lockdown restrictions. Luckily we've received a huge amount of support from so many people and partners, helping us to continue to 'Nourish our Country'."

This story Just 'use it up' and reduce waste first appeared on The Canberra Times.