Can we avoid food waste this Christmas?

Published by Ja Wei Lee on

December 22nd, 2017

It is not a myth to realise that Christmas has well and truly lit up in Ireland now. We are spending extortionately on the ‘essential items’ for Christmas.

A recent study by Repak found that 40 per cent of Irish shoppers will purchase between 10 to 20 gifts in this holiday season while 28 per cent of people will buy 5 to 10 presents.

Just over a quarter of the people surveyed will spend more than €1000 on presents and another 31 per cent will spend less than €500 on average.

While the survey clearly shows that Irish people are splurging on presents, people are also frantically searching supermarket shelves for their annual Christmas grocery shopping.

One issue that arises from this Irish consumer habit is the additional food waste created during this period as a good portion of the food we buy is wasted over the holiday period.

According to Irish Waste Management Association (IWMA), we generate 20 per cent more household waste during the Christmas season, and food waste is one of the major contributors.

Food Waste in Ireland

One million tonnes of food waste is generated in Ireland every year, which is equivalent to €700 on average for each household. The Christmas season sees the amount of food wastage increase compared to the rest of the year.

This is where Food Cloud plays an important role for charities. Food Cloud is a non-profit organisation which distributes perfectly fine leftover food for charities and charity organisations.

To date, Food Clod has distributed the equivalent of 23 million meals to over 7,000 charities and community groups in Ireland, with over 3,200 supermarkets and 120 food producers donating their surpluses. “This time of the year is the busiest for charities and Food Cloud,” says Darragh Doyle, Head of Community at Food Cloud.

Fresh Food In Garbage Can To Illustrate Waste Photo: USDA

He added: “What we are aware of is that despite the crowds in shops at this time of year, there is huge pressure on charities and charitable groups from people who cannot afford groceries at this time of year and feel pressured to provide for their families.”

Mr Doyle added that the amount of fresh food charity partners receive depends on the charity itself. “It differs for each case because different charities use food in different ways. We help source as much fresh food as we can throughout the year for our partners when it’s available,” he added.

Food Cloud believes that the public is growing more awareness regarding food wastage, but there are still opportunities for them to learn more about it.

“We’re delighted to see more local authorities around Ireland teach people about food waste and recycling. We are proud to work with retailers like Tesco, Aldi and Lidl who are doing what they can to minimise their wastage, and help their customers do the same,” said Mr Doyle.

While you are having your mouth-watering Christmas feast, save some thought for those who aren’t as fortunate.  Appreciate what you have on the dining table. Don’t let good food go to the bin as not everyone has the same privilege.

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Ja Wei Lee

Ja Wei is a third-year journalism student from DIT. He is passionate about writing, exploring new ideas and has a keen interest in social issues