Food is a precious resource, yet every year UK households throw away seven million tonnes of food. This has a huge impact on our environment, as huge amounts of energy are poured into the transportation, production and packing of food that is ultimately wasted.
Climate Week Cuisine, a new national call-to-action as part of this year's Climate Week (12-18 March), will show how small actions such as using leftover food, if taken by large numbers of people, can have a real impact on combating climate change.
The key to action on climate change is the realisation that solutions can be found in almost every aspect of our lives, and this includes our eating habits. What we eat is actually a very important part of the low-carbon agenda, and changing how people eat is an important part in bringing about a transition to a more sustainable society. It is also something that people can easily identify with and take action on.
Climate Week Cuisine is encouraging individuals and organisations to eat a low-carbon meal this week. Low-carbon can be interpreted in three ways; first, you could make a meal out of leftovers, thereby helping to reduce waste. Second, you could make a meal using local and seasonal ingredients, which are on the whole a much more sustainable form of food. And third, you could make a meal using less meat and dairy than you'd normally use.
To help encourage people to get involved, and to provide inspiration and ideas, Climate Week has the support of 20 celebrity chefs, who have all contributed their own low-carbon recipe. Angela Hartnett has submitted a wild mushroom tart, Sir Paul McCartney recommends a Mediterranean salad, and Levi Roots has come up with a seasonal sweet potato and spinach soup.
The three 'low-carbon' factors are great when it comes to home cooking, but they can also be applied when eating out. Many restaurants, cafés and pubs are now operating according to sustainable standards, both in terms of how and where they source their food and what they do with leftovers.
Customers are also putting in efforts to make a meal out more sustainable. In a recent survey commissioned by Climate Week, it was revealed that nearly half of people eating out (44%), would ask to take their leftovers home. This may partly be a product of the current economic climate, when spending money on food to simply waste it doesn't make much sense. However it also shows that diners and restaurants are speaking up when it comes to food waste, leading to several celebrity chefs - such as Climate Week supporter Atul Kochhar - pro-actively offering so-called 'doggy bags' to diners who cannot finish their meal.
All these meals, whether cooked at home, eaten out or bought in, can be registered as an official activity of Climate Week, which aims to build a movement that drives Britain towards a low-carbon society. If people see that there are thousands of others taking action, it gives them a great sense of empowerment and of being part of a movement for change.