Learning how to cut down on food waste promotes sustainable living

According to the United Nations, 17% of all food is just dumped — almost 1 billion tonnes every year. It also says that as much as a third of all food may never be eaten. Although the UK is one of the leading countries in terms of reducing the amount of food waste, there is still much more to do. Teaching children about how to reduce food waste is a practical way to promote sustainable living and environmental awareness more generally.

A new UN report, the Food Waste Index 2021, says that food waste not only increases the amount of pollution but also exacerbates harmful climate change and biodiversity loss. It is a global problem, and governments and businesses have key roles to play in dealing with it. However, individuals can also do much to ameliorate the problem: the report says that 60% of wasted food is discarded by households.

According to the Guardian newspaper, the report also makes the following points:

  • In the UK edible waste represents about eight meals per household each week
  • Cutting food waste is one of the easiest ways for people to reduce their environmental impact
  • Individual action, such as measuring portions of rice and pasta, checking the fridge before shopping and increasing cooking skills to use what is available, can help significantly in reducing the amount of waste

A six-week household trial organised by Tesco and the charity Hubbub in 2020 found that most participants were able to reduce their food waste by as much as 76% and save up to £16.50 per week, the equivalent of more than £850 per year.

The participants received guidance on food planning, food storage, batch cooking and creative cooking to use up leftover items. These are all skills that can be taught in schools.

Although “understand and apply the principles of nutrition and learn how to cook” is listed as an aim of the design and technology National Curriculum programmes of study, there is no specific reference to reducing food waste.

Life-based learning takes the current subject-based approach for children aged 5 to 11 a stage further. Subject content is respected — all of it — but it is delivered through nine life themes that directly address the challenges we face.

A focus on learning about food waste draws on knowledge and skills from subjects like mathematics, geography and PSHE. It teaches children about nutrition and healthy eating as well as helping them to adopt the skills, values and practices that ensure they live sustainable lives in harmony with the needs of the planet.

Life-Based learning

Find out more about what Life-Based Learning is all about

Benefits of LBL

Read more about the benefits of the Life-Based Learning approach

An Ailing Planet

Why we need to rethink our relationship with nature

Image at the head of this article by Andrzej Rembowski from Pixabay.

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