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May 28, 2018 | by  | in Features |
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Make a Change with Your Fridge

Every year, New Zealanders throw out the same amount of food that could feed the entire Vic student body for almost 12 years. Not only is this disastrous for our pockets, costing up to an extra $600 a year for an average Kiwi household, but it also significantly harms our environment — and us, by extension. While the thought of eating a brown banana or a stale bread crust might not seem appealing to you, remember that unless you are composting that nutritious resource, there really is no throwing “away”. Once food waste leaves your flat it gets trucked away to a rubbish pit, where it sits in airtight piles with no exposure to oxygen. This provides the ideal conditions to generate greenhouse gases, because the processes which create methane require an oxygen-free environment. As you might have guessed, the gases produced by landfills are then released into the atmosphere and contribute to accelerating climate change. When it rains, landfills then leach highly toxic liquids into our waterways. In Wellington, for example, leachate from the Southern Landfill ends up in Taputeranga Marine Reserve. And finally, to top it all off, when food gets thrown away it wastes all of the resources that went into growing it, transporting it, and cooking it.
So what can we do about it?
PLAN! Don’t go grocery shopping when you’re hungry or when you don’t have a shopping list. Plan out your meals each week so you know exactly what you’ll need, or at least bring a list if you’re not on that level of organisation yet. Not only will this cut down on how much food ends up thrown out, but it’ll also save you a huge amount of money each year.
PROPER STORAGE! Storing fresh fruit and veggies in the fridge will expand their lifespan dramatically. Also, by using cloth or hessian veggie bags rather than plastic packaging, you can stop them from suffocating and going off. If you’re ever in doubt, just freeze it – you can freeze almost all food, and even liquids like milk.

GET CREATIVE WITH LEFTOVERS! Sharing is caring on all fronts here. If you’ve got more than you need, invite your mates around for dinner! Cook up that leftover rice and those sad-looking vegetables in a stir fry. Fruit can be turned into baked treats, and potato peels can be converted into fancy pre-dinner fried snacks. Fun for the whole flat.
COMPOST! Put a food scraps bucket right next to your ordinary household rubbish so it’s handy and unavoidable. You’ll be more likely to think twice before chucking food into the bin, and you’ll also be more aware of what you’re throwing away! Plus, what better way to get some much needed study break sunshine then to get a compost started in your garden. It’s actually a lot easier than it sounds.
VOLUNTEER! In Wellington, charities like Kaibosh and The Free Store run services which redistribute unsold café food to people in need. This tackles an important gap in the food distribution chain, where food is overabundant in some communities and severely lacking in others.

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