Why we all should be economising

New figures show that 400,000 tons of food is thrown away in Britain each year by growers, producers and retailers. Is this just a symptom of modern living or is it about time we did something about our wasteful nation?

It has long been known that we live in a throwaway culture, however, new figures have shed light on to what extent we bin perfectly edible food in the UK. As a result of damage or flawed appearance as well as the high cost of recycling, our retailers and producers waste £1bn of food before it even hits the shelf.

The equivalent of more than 950 million meals are discarded as a result of unsellable produce which, needless to say, could go a long way to feeding many people who struggle to feed themselves and their families on a daily basis. The morals of this argument have been much discussed over a number of years, however, one issue that has perhaps had less attention is the environmental impact of growing, farming and packaging food that will never end up in shoppers’ baskets.

Food giant Tesco is expected, for the first time, to publish the amount of waste recorded within their own UK operations in a move that will, hopefully, begin to influence the rest of the industry to consider how they treat waste and how they can improve on their figures.

Households throughout Britain must also acknowledge their own contributions towards wastage as families throw away around 6 meals each week costing almost £60 a month – a massive £12.5bn a year annually. For many homes, much of the problem is a lack of clarity about storage or labelling as well as over-estimating portions and buying more than is needed.  The biggest culprit for wastage is bread with 24 million slices of bread discarded every year with potatoes and milk runners up with 5.8 million units ditched annually.

Despite the gloomy figures, the outlook appears far brighter as households have cut food waste by 21% over the last 7 years, which means the UK are leading the way in tackling the issue but there is always more to be done.

To help with the clean-up of Britain’s food waste, we have compiled a list of our top 5 tips for reducing waste.

  1. Only buy what you need, don’t be tempted by multiple buy deals
  2. Check for good ‘best before’ dates
  3. Store food in the correct conditions so they don’t perish
  4. If food is in danger of going out of date then freeze according to guidelines
  5. Make the most of leftovers so nothing gets wasted.

Building out to economise

There has been much attention in the news recently about rising house prices but with costs going up and student debt through the roof, then is it any surprise that parents are extending their homes to accommodate adult children or elderly parents?

There was a time when parents would consider moving to a bigger place in order to accommodate their growing children or an elderly family member. However, with house prices creeping up, the landscape of Britain is being remodelled as parents find it more affordable to have their house extended rather than upsize their homes.

More and more parents across Britain are coming to terms with the fact that they will have to share their homes with twenty or thirtysomethings as their spouses return home from university laden with debt and unable to climb onto the property ladder. However, rather than relocate or find a bigger property, parents are making better use of the space they have by converting lofts, damp-proofing cellars and turning garages into self-contained spaces.

Rising housing costs, the burden of debt and squeezed disposable incomes means that young people are finding it increasingly difficult to move away from the family home, particularly in expensive urban areas, which means parents have had to get creative.  Last year there were 3.3 million 20-34 year olds still living at home with parents – the highest number since records began in 1996. This trend is not only related to adult children but also elderly relatives.

As life expectancies grow, it is increasingly common to find three generations living under one roof as homeowners have their parents living with them as well as their grown children.  This may sound like many people’s worst nightmare, however, financially it could make perfect sense. With more people living under one roof, it could mean that costs can be spread further so that household bills are split between all inhabitants.

Converting unused rooms into spare bedrooms or even opening up living areas to create multifunctional spaces is a much cheaper option that buying a bigger property and, what’s more, not only could living costs be shared but any home extensions or remodelling completed could inadvertently add value to your property when the time comes to sell.

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