24 million slices of bread are thrown out by UK households every day, according to research revealed this week from WRAP Surprisingly more than one in five households admit to binning an entire loaf of bread before even opening or slicing it. It is yet more evidence that we still haven't cracked the problem of food waste.
Whenever these national food waste figures are released there is shock and disbelief. How can so much food be simply thrown away? It is like chucking money in the bin without even starting to think of the wider environmental impact. But on closer inspection perhaps it is not so surprising.
The pace of modern life is frantic. I have certainly had the 'what am I going to feed the children tonight' panic resulting in buying food that is already sitting at home or have bought healthy food at the weekend with every intention of using it only for the pressure of time meaning it remains unused.
What all of us need is practical help. We don't need to be told that wasting food is irrational and environmentally damaging we simply want as much support as possible to ensure the food we buy isn't wasted.
This is the ambition behind Waste Less, Save More a new initiative launched by Sainsbury's. Through an open call they are searching for a town/city/borough to benefit from a £1 million investment and become the test bed for innovation to discover which initiatives are most effective in reducing household food waste.
Findings and recommendations from the town will be developed into a blueprint and made public so that communities across the country can benefit. The next few years will seek to embed the changes so that they make a long-term and measured difference. In total Sainsbury's is investing £10 million to help households across the UK.
What impact might this have on busy homes across the UK? The selected town will be a place to experiment and learn using the latest techniques from the UK and around the world. At the simplest level this will be helping households to share their personal tips and advice for making food last longer - did you know for example you can revive flagging carrots simply by placing in cold water before using?
This simple advice could be reinforced using the latest thinking in behaviour change. For example talking bins could give people a friendly nudge. Games might be used to remind people not to throw the wrong type of food waste down the drains and friendly competitions could drive action, and town events might be held to celebrate success
Technology will be used to help busy families make more informed decisions. This could include apps that tell you what is in the fridge, how close it is to its use by date and provides recipe tips helping ensure that you only buy what you need.
Working intensively in one area over a period of time gives an opportunity for communities to come together, to share experiences and to ensure change is embedded into every day routines. One possibility could be to create a street challenge demonstrating the impact of collective action, another could be to bring young mothers together sharing knowledge on how to provide babies with healthy food while not creating waste.
Waste Less, Save More is a fascinating new approach to cutting food waste and could lead to significant change across the UK. To get more information and to enter the competition please visit http://www.j-sainsbury.co.uk/wasteless