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Valuing What We Have

Food Waste  - let's reduce it!

Zero Carbon Guildford runs a Community Fridge in Guildford Town Centre on Tuesdays and Thursdays 10.30 - 11.30


People can come and take a share of the ‘surplus’ food that has been collected from local supermarkets. This is not only helping the Community but it prevents perfectly good food from going to an anaerobic digester or for animal feed and instead makes it available  for human consumption.  

During 2023 the Zero Community Fridge distributed 17,000kg of food.  Over the year 8870 people (many repeat visitors) were welcomed at the Fridge and benefitted from free food.

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The total amount of surplus food redistributed for human consumption in 2022 in the UK was around 170,000 tonnes, up from 106,000 tonnes in 2021. 70% of this was distributed via charitable channels.  This is one way supermarkets are able to cut down on their food waste  - but what about us, what could we be doing?

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WRAP (Waste & Resources Action Programme) is a British registered charity: their latest research (Nov 23) shows that in 2021 UK households threw away 6.4 million tonnes (Mt) of food and that a huge 4.7 Mt of this (73%) could have been eaten. Of the total food waste arising in the UK in 2021 (ca. 10.7 Mt) 15% was wasted On-farm, 13% Manufacture, 10% Hospitality and Food Sector, 2% Retail, and 60% Household. This shows that as households we are responsible for wasting an awful lot of food.

Total food waste arising in the UK, by sector

In Waverley the amount of food waste put into our caddy bins in 2023 was around 3,700 tonnes and on top of that about 5,000 tonnes of food waste in 2023 went into our rubbish bins instead of our caddies.  This together amounts to just under 70 kg per person per year.  Food waste which goes into rubbish bins instead of our caddies  costs far more to process and therefore wastes resources so it is important to put food waste in the correct bin.


Supermarkets  and shops plan to remove packaging from 24 fruits and vegetables by 2025. This will help us to buy only what we need (and also, crucially, cuts down on plastic).  The Food Waste Action Week theme for 2024 is 'Choose What You'll Use'.

Wasted food isn't just a social or humanitarian concern - it's an environmental one – the land used to produce this ‘wasted’ food could otherwise be forest or natural habitat. Producing the food in the first place involves huge amounts of water and energy and the production of greenhouse gas emissions -  see this WWF article on fighting climate change by preventing food waste. 

Re-using containers

It would make so much sense to be able to buy the amount of food you need when you need it, and put it into a container which you already own. But instead, until now, the consumer has had to:

  • buy more than they need, so it goes stale before they can use it!

  • buy extra packaging they also don't need even though there is a perfectly good container sitting at home

Well now, thanks to some innovative refill shops appearing locally we can all join the move to cut down on packaging, AND buy the right amount of food that is still fresh and tasty when we come to eat it. All that's needed is remembering to take the empty container to the shops!

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Photos above and below:

For Earth's Sake, our fabulous local refill shop in Upper House Lane - their takeaway spanakopitta is lovely too!

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A more sustainable approach to Clothing

Did you know:

  • 64% of the 32bn outfits manufactured each year end up in the bin!​

  • In 2019 alone 208 MILLION lbs of waste was generated by ‘single use outfits’!​

  • 20% of the planet’s entire waste water production is from the fashion industry! ​

  • Cotton uses only 3% of the world’s arable land - but non-organic cotton accounts for 24% of insecticide use! 

Maybe if we simply reduce the number of new clothes we buy we could all make a difference to these worrying statistics, reducing  the amount of raw materials, water and energy used in clothing manufacture and distribution, and its contribution to landfill.  

Pass things on

Passing things on and buying secondhand via on line market places, charity shops or fairs, car boot sales and vintage clothes sales is a great way to ensure they get reused and we don't just waste what we have but no longer want: not only clothes but all sorts of equipment and toys. It can be very sociable too!


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Make it last

There are lots of ways to make stuff last longer  - this might include either repairing things like this wooly jumper, or transforming items into something different (also known as upcycling) like this clever gate catch made from a horseshoe. 

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Reuse things, don't throw them away!

and join the SGEG Upcycling Challenge!

We are hoping to build a gallery of  bright ideas so if you have any examples of when you have given your items a new lease of life please send us a photo - pics before and after would be great, but often the 'before' pics get forgotten, so send us the 'after' ones anyway!

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