Thanks to a study by the Waste and Resources Action Programme in partnership with Tesco, the huge levels of food waste which take place within the supermarket chain and those like it have been revealed. But while Tesco are now promising to make a number of changes to help reduce food waste in their stores, there are also steps that we as customers can take to help supermarkets reduce waste and limit how much food is thrown away each week.
While many of us now try to avoid food waste at home, we can also make a big difference while shopping in our local supermarkets. Follow these tips to help reduce your contribution to food waste whilst out shopping.
Choose products with shorter shelf lives
If you know that the food you buy is going to be consumed in the next couple of days, there’s no need to worry about buying the product with the furthest “use by” date. By removing an item that is approaching its expiry date from the shop, you are assuring that it goes to a place where is will be used. Other customers might be less thoughtful, and the more it is dismissed, the higher the chances of it being eventually thrown away by the shop. Many supermarkets make it easier to find food which is approaching its expiry date and sell it quickly by designating fridges and shelves to “clearance” products. Help them out (and grab a bargain!) by choosing items from here whenever you can.
Self service and deli counters are some of the most wasteful areas of any supermarkets. Food can be considered “contaminated” and unsuitable for resale simply by being picked up and bagged, even by a member of staff wearing gloves. When asking for a portion of a food from a counter, make sure you know exactly what you’ll need and how much, as it will more than likely be thrown away if you change your mind. In a similar way, self service items such as bread rolls or pastries are more likely to be avoided by other customers or thrown away if they have been put into a bag and left. The psychology of customers is a powerful thing and people are far less likely to buy an item if they feel it has been in some way contaminated by somebody else, leaving it at a higher risk of being thrown away at the end of the day.
Pick imperfect items
Knobbly apples, discoloured tomatoes and even dented tins all have a hard time selling from supermarkets, leading to high levels of waste, while some fruit and vegetables are disposed of before they even enter the store, due to heavy quality control procedures. If you find “imperfect” but perfectly useable food whilst shopping, be sure to choose it and put it to good use. Not only does it save it from potentially going to waste, it also sends a strong message to the store manager- that customers are still happy to buy imperfect items and that there is no need for them to go to waste.
Image sourced: Bruce Stockwelltagsfood wastesustainable foodTescoWaste and Resources Action Programme