Let’s Talk About Food Waste

Read on to find out about some waste-saving businesses and initiatives out there in Monmouthshire.

 

Many of us are doing what we can at home to reduce the amount of food we waste. Despite our efforts, the scale of the problem is alarming. 6.6 million tonnes of food was wasted by households in the UK in 2018, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS). What’s the story behind that waste? Why didn’t it get eaten?

There is a bigger picture when it comes to food waste that includes the energy and materials that are used within food production, distribution and storage. Plastic is one waste material that’s been in the headlines a lot in the past few years. What about other materials? Then there’s the less tangible problem of pollution, which is produced from processes that transform and transport our foods.

There is no doubt that the problem is big and complex. The good news is there are legislative changes afoot, such as a 2023 Welsh Government Act that makes it illegal to supply certain single-use plastic products to consumers. Some of the answers to these questions come from each of us exploring options that suit our own life circumstances. As a starting point, read on to find out about some waste-saving businesses and initiatives out there in Monmouthshire.

Zero waste shops

Zero waste shops supply food and products without the packaging. The idea is to bring your own containers and to weigh out an amount that suits your needs. Note, you can sometimes find containers that have been donated.

What this means is that you get into the habit of re-using containers and you also reduce food waste by only buying the amounts you need, instead of the quantities that are packaged up in supermarkets.

There are three zero waste shops in Monmouthshire: Wye Weight in Monmouth, Little Green Refills in Abergavenny and Just Weigh in Usk.

Milk bottles

Instead of buying milk from a shop in plastic bottles, you can use a refill service. There are some businesses that deliver milk bottles to your door, then collect them after, such as Raglan Dairy and Mead Farm Foods. Some businesses offer vending machines at various venues, such as Josh’s Jerseys, where you can purchase a glass bottle, then re-use it every time you want a refill.

Community fridges and food stalls

Community fridges, food stalls and pantries have been set up in many places across the UK to combat food waste. Anyone can leave surplus food in the fridges and what has been donated is available for everyone to access. Volunteers will also sometimes collect unwanted food, particularly from supermarkets. The primary objective is to prevent food waste.

Models vary from fridges that are regularly monitored by volunteers to those that are only open when volunteers are available and these spaces may also have non-refrigerated foods. There are community fridges all over Monmouthshire, for example at the Bridges Centre in Monmouth, Wye Gymnastics and Galaxy Cheerleading in Caldicot, the Rainbow Café in Chepstow and Cwtch Angels in Abergavenny. Some of the venues have short opening times, so it’s worth checking before you go.

Food stalls and pantries operate with the same open access principle, but don’t necessarily store food in a fridge. Dinky Doo is a food stall in Goytre that is open 10-12 every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

Fermented foods

Fermentation is a process that converts your foods to a state that preserves them for longer. Vegetables can be turned into tasty alternatives such as kimchi and sauerkraut. Crafty Pickle, based in Crick, offers workshops that take you through the process of how to make these two fermented foods. They also have some useful blog posts on their website with tips for avoiding food waste.

Buy organic

Food with a label marked organic is produced without the use of artificial fertilizers and pesticides, which are manufactured with high amounts of greenhouse gas emissions. Square Farm Shop in Mitchel Troy sells organic produce from its own farm.

Composting and recycling

For any food and food packaging waste that is hard to avoid there are opportunities to transform these waste materials into products that are useful once again. For some great guidance about composting, see our article with composting expert, Sue Mabberley. For details about the Monmouthshire County Council recycling scheme visit here.