Australians waste a staggering $6 billion of food a year, and a quarter of the average household bin is filled with uneaten food. Not only is this a huge waste of resources, it’s a terrible waste of money – it can also mean we spend more time shopping for things we don’t actually need.
Geremy Farr-Wharton from the Queensland University of Technology set out to find the best way to help households reduce the amount of food they throw away, testing three options.
Unsurprisingly, the most effective was the least high-tech (he tried a fridge cam and an app to help you know what’s in your fridge at all times), and it’s something we can all do with minimal effort.
The researcher explains why this low-tech solution works so well: “My study showed that households generally have one to two members who do the shopping, but crucially there is typically just one person who takes responsibility for putting the food away. This means other occupants often don’t know where to find specific food items, leaving them unsure of what foods are available.
“Respondents in my survey often reported finding foods such as half a tomato lurking in the fridge, and being unsure of how to use it or how it got there, would just leave it to go off.”
So what’s the solution? Colour coding your fridge.
Here’s how it works: you place coloured pieces of plastic on the shelves of the fridge (you could also use coloured tape) – green for fresh produce, red for meat and so on.
On the door of the fridge you post a note or chart explaining the code so everyone is thinking about where they are going to put that item before they’ve even opened the door.
Farr-Wharton says, “People generally found the system quite easy to manage, particularly in family households. The outcomes of the project saw food waste reduced quite significantly.”
Do you despair about the food waste in your home? Could this help you? What other tips do you have for preventing food being thrown away?