The impact of food waste on our planet's climate: how you can help make a difference

Posted in: Student action

In this blog, Vrinda Raninga, one of our student Climate Champions, will take you on a journey to explore the shocking amount of food that's wasted every year and how it's affecting our environment. As the cost of food rises and inflation squeezes everyone's budget, no one can afford to be throwing money away on wasted food. But don't worry, Vrinda will share some tips on how you can help make a difference and reduce food waste in your own life!

What if I told you that we could already feed every undernourished person on this planet with what we have and help the environment in the process? Seems a bit too good to be true, but if we start to investigate this more, you will be surprised by our society’s capabilities and downfalls.

Before we get into anything else, what is food waste and the issues it causes?

Food waste is:

  • the uneaten food that we dispose of from our kitchens
  • the food that never leaves the farm or distribution centre
  • and the food that gets lost or spoiled on the way to us consumers 

Losses at each stage may seem menial but add up to 1.3 billion tonnes of food waste annually! That's a third of all the food that is produced and can feed every undernourished person if distributed correctly. Not only does this negatively impact the economy through losses for farmers, businesses and households, but it also exacerbates food insecurity and hunger.  

As for its connection to climate change, there are two primary links. Because a third of food produced is wasted, all the resources to grow, harvest, package and transport those goods (such as water, energy, plastic packaging and fuel) are also wasted. Alongside this, when food waste is in landfill, the rotting causes the release of methane emissions – an even more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide! 

According to the WWF, “In the US alone, the production of lost or wasted food generates the equivalent of 32.6 million cars worth of greenhouse gas emissions" annually. 

To put things in perspective even more, if food waste were a country, it would be the world's third-highest emitter of greenhouse gases. However, we keep throwing perfectly good food away. Over 10 million tonnes of food are binned each year in the UK.


But still, why should you be concerned?

Well, firstly, you would save a bit of money (On average, students
throw away £5.25 worth of food every week. That’s £273 a year, that you could be saving!)
, but by reducing food waste in large quantities, you could make a real difference when it’s done together. 

For example, if we stopped all food waste: 

So, what can you do? 

  1. Only buy as much as you need by meal prepping and planning ahead
    • Make leftovers count - If you have leftover food, store it in the fridge or freezer to save money on eating out.
  2. Freeze foods that can be frozen, check out this complete guide to freezing food: What you can and can’t put in the freezer
  3. Creatively use leftovers, check out these sites with recipes for leftover food below:
  4. Use University and company schemes, check out:


Overall, your small changes can make a big difference so try to make an impact in any way you can!

Here is the student sustainability guide which you can use to help you on your eco and money saving journey."

Vrinda Raninga

BEng(Hons) Chemical Engineering student

Posted in: Student action

Check out our student guide: How to save money and the planet


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