This Holiday Season, Fight Food Waste For The Planet, Our People, And Your Wallet

food waste during festive season
Overshopping, cooking more food than is required, and not making good use of leftover food means food waste at Christmas and new year celebrations are huge issues.
According to FAO, 515 million people in APAC are estimated to remain undernourished, particularly in Central and Southern Asia with the highest rate of food insecurity1.  However, over 50% of global food waste comes from Asia. The amount of food waste produced in China alone could feed 100 million people.


Prevention and management of food loss and waste are very critical. UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) 12.3 aims at halving per capita global food waste at retail and consumer levels and reducing food losses along production and supply chains, including post-harvest losses. To address this goal, we look at three ways to cut down food loss and food waste, and reveal the opportunities along the value chains in APAC.

The Shocking Reality of The Festive Season Food Waste

Overshopping, cooking more food than is required, and not making good use of leftover food means food waste at Christmas and new year celebrations are huge issues. As individuals we can play a big part in limiting the triple negative impact of food waste.While the attention can be repetitive, we all might need someone around to remind us how our attitude about food needs to change.
  • Agriculture accounts for 70% of the fresh water used by people and nearly 30% of global greenhouse gas emissions.
  • About 29% of global fish stocks are over-exploited and 61% are fully-exploited.
  • Agriculture is the largest driver of tropical deforestation.
  • The EPA estimates that during the holidays our household waste increases by about 25%.
By decreasing the food wasted in our homes, we can contribute positively to responsible consumption and production, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and enhancing food security. This festive season (and beyond), celebrate a reduction in food waste and give the gift of contributing to the Sustainable Development Goals. 

Keeping Your Food Waste to a Minimum

Here’s a few tips to help you survive the festive season waste free: 
If you’re hosting, take an hour or so to plan ahead in advance. This means everything from snacks and starters to turkey and beyond. Hopefully you know how many people are coming to dinner. Plan the size of the turkey, how many potatoes you’ll need and what vegetables you’re having. 
Where you can, buy vegetables loose. Fresh produce in huge bags might seem cheaper, but you might be buying stuff you don’t need. Make sure you fill your own bags with what you really need.
If you’re planning on eating out at a restaurant, don’t forget to bring your own container to carry your leftovers home in. 
Don’t get tempted by supermarket deals. Your favorite mince pies might be on a two-for-one deal, but if you won’t eat them all, donate them to a food bank. 
If anyone needs to bring anything, let them know in advance. Ask them not to bring extras if you’ve got everything covered. You can ask them to donate if they want to help. Make sure you know what your host needs so you don’t bring duplicates. 
Storage is everything. Store your meat safely, ideally in an uncluttered fridge. You can keep potatoes in a dark cupboard. You can keep most other foods in the fridge’s crisper drawer for up to a week. Fruit looks pretty in a festive bowl, but if you don’t eat it soon, it’ll spoil. Make sure you keep some in the fridge so you can top up your bowl. 
Start clearing out your freezer now. Food that’s left over, like meat, veggies, and even cakes, freezes well. 
Leftover turkey and veggies from Christmas can be turned into a variety of new meals. Perfect if you’re too tired to make new meals from scratch. 
For the scraps you can’t avoid, composting food waste at home can be fun and satisfying! You can also use the council’s food waste collection service.
The key is to get creative and prevent waste from even occurring. Make preventing food waste your personal act of conservation.
1. Apprehending food waste in Asia: Policies, practices and promising trends (Published in ROUTLEDGE HANDBOOK OF FOOD WASTE. 2020, p. 187-206).

Lead image courtesy of Jiboom