Helping to reduce food waste at Water Eaton Community Larder

Published: 05 August 2022

How to reduce food waste article from Water Eaton Community Larder

In 2021 UK’s largest supermarkets throw away enough food for 190 million meals. The latest data shows that Britain’s top 10 chains are donating less than 9 per cent of their surplus food for human consumption.

Just 24,242 tons was passed on to those in need out of 282,338 tons of unsold food approaching its use-by or best-before date. Every 1,000 tons amounts to 2.4 million meals.

This isn’t the whole picture as other manufacturers and households throw away food that could be used as well. This amounts to 4.5 million tonnes of food. Food that could have been eaten but gets thrown away (4.5 million tonnes) is worth around £14 billion. This is around £60 per month for the average family with children. The carbon associated with this food is equivalent to that generated by one in five cars on UK roads. Its hard to imagine what 4.5 million tonnes of food would look like. It would fill 8 Wembley Stadiums or 3,600 Olympic sized swimming pools!

Where is food wasted?

  • Misshapen, marked, discoloured, or oddly sized fruit and vegetables that don’t meet the standards of the marketplace (up to 20-40%) are thrown away before even leaving the farm.
  • Some food goes off when transported.
  • Offcuts and foods past their use-by dates are binned by both retailers and by us at home. (In developed countries, this kind of waste is the greatest proportion of food lost.)
  • Cooked, uneaten food is binned.

How can we waste less food?

  • We should eat all shapes and sizes of fruit and veg: Do you know that rummaging through a bin of apples until you find the most perfect-looking one contributes to food waste? Though identical in taste and nutrition, so-called “ugly” fruits and vegetables get passed up for produce that is more pleasing to the eye. Try to buy the “ugly” fruit & veg next time for go shopping.
  • Companies can use 'ugly' fruit and vegetables in their products: Imperfect fruit and veg is used in drinks, jams, chutneys, hummus, and snacks by companies such as Rubies in the Rubble, ChicP, Dash Water and more.
  • We should use it to make other resources: An increasing amount of food waste is being sent to be composted – so it’s put back into the soil – or to anaerobic digestion facilities where it is broken down and converted into gases, creating a source of renewable energy.

WRAP estimate that by cutting food waste each household could save up to £700 per year as well as making less waste.

Top 5 ways to cut down on food waste

  1. Don't over buy. Keep track of what you've bought and used. Take a 'shelfie' – a photo of your fridge and cupboards to remind you of what's there.
  2. Check the use-by dates of fresh food when you buy it. These are the dates to take notice of, rather than the best-before dates. Only buy what you can use before it expires.
  3. Plan ahead. Think about what you're going to cook and how you'll use the leftovers.
  4. Get to know your grocer. They will have plenty of advice on how to use up leftover veg.
  5. Love your freezer. Use your spare time to batch cook and freeze.
  6. Join a Community Larder & use a community fridge.

Water Eaton Community Larder & the Soup for the Soul Café are open on Tuesday afternoons at Water Eaton Church Centre, Drayton Road MK2 3RR

The Café is open to everyone on Tuesdays between 1.00 - 2.00 p.m. and it has a real community spirit. It is a lovely to meet people and to chat. The Cafe serves hot and cold drinks and a light lunch. There are also informative talks from services such as Age Concern, Diabetes UK, the Healthy Start Scheme, who provide information about the services they offer. Money Lifeline are there every week providing help for people in debt or financial crisis.

The Community Larder is a membership scheme that provides surplus food from the supermarkets that would otherwise go to waste and provides affordable access to food every week. It is open on Tuesdays between 2.00 – 4.00p.m.

How much does membership to the larder cost and what's included?

There is a one-off joining fee of £10. Individual membership is £3.50 per week for up to 10 items of food including chilled food, plus fruit and veg. (Equates to about £12-£15 at supermarket pricing.) Family membership is £7.00 a week for up to 20 items plus fruit & veg

How do I sign up? Pop into Water Eaton Church Centre on a Tuesday & our team can sign you up.

Do you have any free time on a Tuesday? Both the larder and the café are run by volunteers. We are always looking for people who have some spare time to help us run this worthwhile project. Please email Debbie at for further information. Also, look out for the Community Larder in the next edition of The Neighbour newsletter. More information is also shared on the Water Eaton Community Larder Facebook Group.


Photo of ~Community Larder volunteers