Food waste increases in Westmeath homes over Christmas

Food waste in Westmeath homes increases substantially over Christmas, with more food thrown out during the festive season than any other time of the year, according to STOP Food Waste, a programme developed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA ).

The EPA recently conducted a research survey of 1,100 Irish people, which found that 60 per cent of Westmeath people throw away food regularly throughout the year, costing the average household up to €1,000 per year in food waste.

Almost all Westmeath residents (98 per cent ) are bothered by throwing food away, yet 20 per cent of those surveyed are doing little or nothing to prevent it. The average person throws out almost 300kg of black bin rubbish each year, and about one third of this waste is food waste. This is the equivalent of 3,750 apples. Research suggests that if we managed to prevent generating some of this waste and also composted and recycled at home we could reduce our rubbish by almost 70 per cent.

The extensive survey also revealed that the main foods that are regularly thrown out in Westmeath homes are fruits - apples, bananas, and grapes - and vegetables - lettuce, potatoes, and carrots. Other foods regularly thrown out include bread and bread rolls, condiments (spreads, jams, relishes, sauces ), yoghurts, dairy desserts, and food leftovers.

More than a half of people in Westmeath (60 per cent ) generally tend to plan ahead and use a shopping list when shopping for food. Research also found that only one third of those (33 per cent ) using a shopping list stick to it, with most shoppers being distracted by special offers.

The STOP Food Waste programme has come up with some top tips to assist in better buying and food preparation this Christmas. Visit www.stopfoodwaste.ie or the Stop Food Waste Facebook page.

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