Kira Simpson is a sustainability advocate, climate optimist and founder and editor of The Green Hub.

Food waste. It’s responsible for around 8 percent of global greenhouse gases and if food waste were a country, it would be the third-largest emitter in the world. And while our individual households aren’t to blame for the entire food waste problem, we still contribute 34% of it through our daily habits.

Here’s what we can do about it:

Plan meals, write a shopping list, and stick to it

The first step is to work out who you’re feeding and how many meals you need to make for the week.

  • Research recipes, plan your favourites and write a list of meals. Breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and snacks.
  • Check your fridge, freezer, and cupboards to see what you already have on hand that can be used.
  • Write a grocery list.
  • Stick to the grocery list!

If you have a household with kids or housemates who’s weekly plans may change and they might skip dinner, plan meals that can be eaten the next day for lunch or frozen for later.

Store food correctly so it lasts longer

Storing your fresh produce correctly gives it the best chance for survival. Wash and prep your food as soon as you get home from the grocery store.

  • Leafy greens can be kept in airtight containers or produce bags
  • Carrots submerged in water will keep up to two weeks
  • Keep broccoli, spring onions, and fresh herbs in jars of water
  • I like to cut up things like celery, carrots, pumpkin, and zucchini into chunks and store them in an airtight container to use in meals or roast during the week.

Freeze what you can’t eat

I live by the philosophy that almost everything can be frozen. Just make sure you store them properly in airtight containers or glass jars.

  • Bananas and almost any fruit can be chopped up and stored in containers or silicon pouches to be used later in smoothies, desserts, stewed, or even to make ice-cream
  • Leafy greens can be frozen whole to use in soups, stews, and stir-frys
  • Root vegetables like potatoes and carrots can be cooked to make mash, purees or soups
  • Fresh herbs can be chopped up and mixed in with water or olive oil and added to ice cubes for later cooking
  • Cook tomatoes with the herbs to make a delicious fresh pasta sauce
  • Even avocados can be frozen whole, simply defrost them in a bowl of warm water when you’re ready to use them

Compost your food scraps

Composting our food scraps helps reduce carbon emissions. For every tonne of food waste in landfill, a tonne of CO2-e greenhouse gas is generated.

When our food waste accumulates in landfills, it begins to decompose. It’s then broken down by bacteria through anaerobic digestion which means there’s not enough oxygen reaching all the food waste.

Without oxygen to facilitate the decaying process, the food waste begins to produce methane, a greenhouse gas that is 21 times more potent than carbon dioxide. The simple act of composting is one of the easiest ways to help reduce our impact on the planet.