5 ways Singaporeans can limit food waste

PHOTO: The Straits Times

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Food waste is a significant and growing problem in Singapore. In 2019, the amount of food waste per person was equivalent to two bowls of rice a day.

Although food waste is not only caused by individuals, there are several ways that individuals can reduce their ecological footprint by rethinking their consumption habits.

Here are five ways that you can reduce your individual food waste while prioritising financial responsibility and sustainability:

1. Try DIY composting

PHOTO: The Straits Times

It's possible to rethink how you discard your waste instead of simply tossing all of it into the trash. Composting is an easy way that you can put food scraps and other organic waste to productive use. Composting is allowing your organic waste to naturally decompose.

You can compost by disposing of your leftover vegetables or plant matter into soil. Compost can then be reused for various purposes such as soil for houseplants or yards, or it can be disposed of at a local food waste facility .

Fortunately, you don't need to spend much to get started composting yourself. DIY composting is now easier than ever, and can immediately help to reduce your household's ecological footprint. By making a DIY compost bin, you'll be able to reduce your food waste without breaking the bank.

The following table outlines the materials needed and estimated cost of making a DIY compost bin. Some materials will be optional depending on what you can readily procure at home.

Material Price
Plastic Kitchen Waste Bin $15.41
Soil (5 Litres) $14.83 or Free
Recycled Paper and Cardboard Free
Leaves, Twigs, and Plant Matter Free
Organic Food Waste Free

2. Avoid over-purchasing food

24 per cent of households in Singapore often throw away food from the refrigerator because it is excessive or forgotten.

In other words, nearly a quarter of all Singaporeans contribute to excess food waste simply because they miscalculated the amount of food they could eat.

Of the $342 million that food waste costs Singaporeans annually, each person contributes an average of $58.46 of individual waste.

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The best way to reduce this kind of food wastage is simple: effectively plan your food consumption. For most people, this means reducing your average grocery haul to fit only your immediate needs.

It is helpful to keep a mental note of the foods you already have at home or check your refrigerator and cabinets to see the available space.

When ordering takeaway or delivery, inquire about meals' portion sizes and decide according to your level of hunger. Taking these steps can save you an average of up to $58.46 from food waste annually.

Fortunately, applying these changes to your lifestyle will not only reduce your ecological footprint, but will also help you save in the long run.

Even though buying food in bulk may seem like a wise financial decision, purchasing more food than you or your family can eat can be excessive and wasteful. Remember that whenever you throw away food, you are also throwing away your hard-earned money.

3. Preserve your food

PHOTO: The Straits Times

You can also limit individual food wastage by learning to preserve your food. You can try several kinds of food preservation techniques at home, such as freezing, pickling, curing, and fermenting.

Implementing these practices into your food preparation routine will save you money and extend your food's shelf life and introduce new flavors into your diet.

For instance, you can make a simple brine using water, salt, and garlic to turn everyday vegetables such as cucumbers and onions into a delicious pickled snack with a long shelf life. Other foods you can try to make in such a way include Korean kimchi, Indonesian acar, and Filipino achara.

If venturing into fermentation and pickling seems too ambitious to you, you can still develop a habit of freezing meat or excess cooked foods to increase their shelf life. This will reduce your wastage and the subsequent need to restock on food.

4. Make creative new dishes with scraps

You can utilise extra food countless ways, but using leftovers as ingredients for new dishes is a great way to repurpose what you don't finish. You might be surprised by how many creative ways you can use your leftovers to create brand-new dishes!

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For example, you can make an entire meal by frying stale rice with vegetables and meat to make fried rice. Additionally, if you could go for another night of takeaway, you can use your leftover dishes and sauces to enjoy similar flavors.

Most people also don't know that you can reuse wilting produce as well. If your fruits and vegetables have visible signs of mold, you should definitely discard them.

However, produce that has only begun to wilt is perfectly usable, and can be used as ingredients for things like soups and smoothies.

Investing in cookware like a blender can help you prepare delicious and cost-efficient foods with your leftover produce — all while bypassing the expensive prices of so-called health foods.

5. Donate excess food to those in need

PHOTO: The Straits Times file

Even though Singapore's food waste problem may seem like a problem of excess, a significant percentage of Singaporeans still suffer from the effects of food insecurity . Your excess food can be better used to serve people in need. If you still have excess food after trying the above waste reduction methods, you should always consider donating it to the needy instead of throwing it away.

Several organisations, such as Food Bank Singapore , Food From The Heart , and Willing Hearts are dedicated to helping you put your excess food to use.

This article was first published in ValueChampion.