Wasting food is wasting water too

Over the past few weeks, we’ve been looking at how useful ‘waste’ can be in providing materials for reuse and recycling and how we can use the effect on our environment to help decide on the next steps to increase recycling.

Wasting resources is an important matter, especially as we live where many of these resources are in limited supply.

It’s not just a question of the value of what is being thrown away or the effect of disposal on our environment, there is also the question of what went into the production of what is being thrown away.

This is particularly true for food waste when we are talking about so much being discarded unused. A recent report produced by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) has looked at one part of these inputs into food production, the water used to grow and manufacture the food we buy.

Researchers have estimated that the waste of water used in producing food thrown away amounts to nearly 250 litres per person per day, compared to the 150 litres of water we each take out of our taps each day.

This would be bad enough if we were just wasting our own water, but more than two thirds is water we import from overseas.

Over 40 per cent of this waste water is the result of our wasting just three types of food, coco beans, rice and coffee.

Our waste of home grown meat and poultry also accounts for over 40 per cent of the waste of our own water, with our wasting of milk accounting for another 25 per cent.

Overall, our wasting of food we could eat uses over 6000 million m3 of water a year, about six per cent of the UK’s water footprint.

To do this, each UK household spends about £10 per week extra on their food shopping – a strange extravagance in days of financial constraint.

WRAP has put together a wealth of advice, tips and recipes to help families reduce food waste on their website www.lovefoodhatewaste.com.

The Water and Carbon Footprint of Household Food and Drink Waste in the UK can be found at http://bit.ly/ehRSwE. Contact Sustaining Berwick at www.sustainingberwick.org.uk, call Berwick Community Trust on 01289 330955 or contact Robert Leetham on01289 306790 or email rplberwick@bigfoot.com.