7 foods we love to waste

Kierra Box

03 December 2015

The amount of food we waste is shocking - these are just 7 of our most wasted foods.

In total, we waste 1.3 billion tonnes of food grown globally each year. That’s about a third of all food produced for human consumption.

This wasted food has taken loads of fresh water, land and labour to produce. It is responsible for over 3 gigatonnes of carbon emissions each year. 

If it were a country, it would be the third highest emitter of greenhouse gases in the world.

But Britain is the most wasteful place in the European Union when it comes to food, with 15 million tonnes per year feeding no one.

If all this wastage gets you a bit cross, why not sign up for tips on avoiding food waste and making sure your food is planet-friendly?

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So what are the most wasted foods? 

Misused meat

two pigs

Meat production has a huge impact on the environment - contributing to everything from climate change to deforestation.

The animals we raise to eat are responsible for 14.5% of total global emissions – more than all forms of transport put together.

Despite all of the resources that go into producing our meat, at home we waste 570,000 tonnes of it each year, with a value of £1,300 million.

In the UK, we waste about 50 million chickens, 1.5 million pigs and 100,000 beef cows each year 

The worst bit? Nearly half of it could be used.

Try out some cunning meat leftover tricks. 

Bendy beans

beans growing
Friends of the Earth

Up to a third of each green bean sold is cut off before it goes to market. Why?

Beans are long and bendy and bean packaging is short and straight

Those that are the "wrong" size, shape or colour are wasted entirely.  This farmer reported wasting 40 tonnes of beans (40% of his entire crop) each week. 

Binned bread

bread slices

It takes 1,286 litres of water to make a loaf of bread – that’s 16 bathtubs-full. This fresh water could have supplied almost 500 people with enough to drink for a day. 

Yet Tesco threw away 41% of its bakery goods in 2013. That’s equivalent to over 14.5 million loaves, and enough water to quench the thirst of those 500 people for over 40 thousand years.

Find out how to save on your bread-based wastage with Love Food Hate Waste.

Forsaken fish

four fish on floor
Friends of the Earth International/Jason Taylor

Fishermen throw away 40-60% of all the fish they catch in Europe each year.

This is because of EU quotas which limit the type and range of fish that trawlers can sell (but can’t change what swims into their nets).

Download this sustainable fish app to make sure your fish and chips isn’t costing the planet, and try out some fin-to-fin eating.

Manky milk

pile of plastic milk bottles
Mike Watson Images Limited

The 360,000 tonnes of milk we pour down the drain each year didn’t get into that bottle by magic.

The cows that produced it – and the factories that packaged it - created greenhouse gases equivalent to 100,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide. That’s as much as 20,000 cars emit in a year.

If you spend more time tipping milk down that drain than pouring it on your cereal, you can take a few simple steps to change this

Curvy carrots

wonky looking carrots
Adrian Brooks/Imagewise

The hilariously-shaped carrot has been a source of joy for allotment owners for years – but our supermarkets just won’t stock them.

When food waste charity Feedback visited one Kenyan exporter, it found that an average of 50% of each batch was rejected for cosmetic reasons.

This is despite evidence that shows we don’t care what shape our vegetables are - Asda found that 65% of shoppers were happy with oddly-shaped produce.

Slimy salad

salad stall

How often do you get to the bottom of a bag of salad? In 2012 lettuce accounted for £270m worth of avoidable food waste, while leafy salad made up £150m

Overall, the Soil Association reckons that a staggering 20-40% of produce is rejected simply because it doesn't look quite right.

With hundreds of millions going hunrgy across the world, this can’t be right.

Take action at home by pledging to cut the junk.

Pledge to Eat Better here


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Food waste