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Cook up your old food and save the planet

29 September 2021 at 4:18 pm
Maggie Coggan
Food waste charity OzHarvest is encouraging Aussies to use up their food to fight climate change 

Maggie Coggan | 29 September 2021 at 4:18 pm


Cook up your old food and save the planet
29 September 2021 at 4:18 pm

Food waste charity OzHarvest is encouraging Aussies to use up their food to fight climate change 

Buying a whole bunch of fresh produce, only to throw it out a week later when you forget to use it all is something many can relate to. But it’s a bigger problem than you might think. 

On average, 2.5 million tonnes of food is wasted from Australian homes every year, with food waste responsible for 8-10 per cent of global green-house gases. Now, a new OzHarvest campaign is trying to tackle the issue with a simple solution. 

Launched on the UN’s International Food Loss and Waste Day, the “Use it Up” campaign is aiming to change everyday behaviours to stop food wastage in its tracks. 

As part of the campaign, OzHarvest has developed Use It Up tape, which people can use to label food that needs using up in their fridge or pantry. 

The recyclable and reusable tape was developed in response to research from Monash University’s BehaviourWorks, which found that “use it up” behaviour was the best way to reduce food waste at home. 

This could mean labelling a shelf in your fridge for food that needs to be used up, or setting aside time for a meal in the week that uses up older food and leftovers.  

Head researcher Mark Boulet said that the Use it Up tape was a great visual reminder to plan and communicate this behaviour change. 

“The tape is a great family communication and meal planning tool, and acts as a daily prompt to change behaviour,” Boulet said. 

Ronni Kahn AO, the CEO of OzHarvest, told Pro Bono News that by labelling food and making it visible to the whole household, it puts the responsibility on everyone to not waste food. 

“It takes the responsibility from just the person who’s the purchaser of food to the whole household, because everyone can then see what needs to be used and what needs to be purchased only after you’ve used that,” Kahn said.

The campaign will see over 50 influencers showing off how they use the tape to reduce food waste on their platforms, with recipes and tips on how to use food up in the most creative of ways shared via OzHarvest’s website, Facebook, Instagram and TikTok. 

Kahn said that she had even sent a roll of tape to Prince Charles, who is well known for his environmental advocacy. 

“He’s a major food-waste fighter, so I’m sure he will put the tape to good use,” she said. 

Australian journalist, TV presenter and self-declared “crap house-wife” Jessica Rowe said that forgetting about food in the fridge was one of her worst habits. 

“My fridge is usually a disaster zone, which meant I was always buying produce I already had. I’m not proud of how much food I wasted from not knowing what was shoved at the back of the shelves,” Rowe said. 

“The Use It Up tape has helped me organise my fridge and now I’m wasting much less – if I can do it, anyone can!”

From Wednesday, there will be 1,000 rolls of tape available from the OzHarvest website for free (plus a postage fee), but Kahn said that it was something the organisation was looking at rolling out longer term.

“We’ll be looking at trying to get funding to create more tape… we want to get it into supermarkets, and pretty much everywhere, because [food wastage] is a massive, global problem,” she said. 

Find out more about the campaign here. 

Maggie Coggan  |  Journalist  |  @MaggieCoggan

Maggie Coggan is a journalist at Pro Bono News covering the social sector.

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