Reduce Garbage and Food Waste

Reduce garbage
  • Reduce garbage by taking better care of what you already have.
  • Repair, replace or sell things. The government has reduced the VAT tax on repairs, so it is now cheaper to fix and mend your things.
  • Save and reuse – use your imagination! Is there any packaging you can reuse so you do not have to throw it away or buy new? Plastic packaging for cherry tomatoes are excellent little greenhouses to grow seeds in, plastic and paper bags can be saved and used again. Once you have started, you will see opportunities everywhere.
  • Can you come up with ways to reduce disposable products? Sew cotton swabs to remove makeup from clothes that cannot be donated to charity, or sew reusable coffee filters. It can be a lot of fun to figure out how to replace disposable items without necessarily buying something new.
  • If you have the opportunity – get a compost or bokashi. This way, food waste becomes valuable and you can return nutrients and carbon to the natural cycle.
  • Buy rechargeable batteries.
  • Buy a menstrual cup and avoid buying tampons and sanitary pads.
  • Use cloth diapers instead of disposable ones.
  • Beautiful linen napkins can be bought for a small sum second-hand.
  • Use cloth bags and reusable fruit bags.
  • Buy package-free when possible and ask for more package-free in your store. Read about plastic-packed organic food here.
Reduce food waste

Much of what we throw away is food that could still be eaten. For example, on average, every Swede pours out a cup of coffee everyday. You may not think much about it when you throw away food, because suddenly it has become garbage. But we throw a large part of our food budget in the bin or pour our money straight down the sink. Throwing away edible food is a huge waste of our common resources, it has a negative impact on the climate and unnecessarily consumes the resources in the environment. Surveys show that Swedish households are responsible for the absolute largest part of food waste, about 95 kilos per person per year or one kilo of food waste for a family of four people every day.

In the supermarket
  • Plan your purchases so that everything can be used. If you need a certain ingredient to cook a dish, figure out how you can use the leftovers, if there are any, as well so that it does not go bad just lying around in the fridge.
  • Think the opposite! Deliberately choose the fruits and vegetables that have an ugly appearance, are slightly chipped or have an extra bend. Brown and spotted bananas are good in smoothies or can be frozen and used to make ice cream. Also go for the “lonely” bananas (which are otherwise often thrown away). Buy products where the best-before date is short if you know you will be able to consume them.
  • Ask if your store can start selling more of the “ugly” fruits and vegetables and the food where the best-before date is short – many stores already do this, but some may need a little extra encouragement.
  • Too Good to Go and Karma are some suggestions of companies and apps that enable us consumers to help save food from being wasted from both restaurants and shops in major cities or by shopping for food with near best-before dates online.
At home
  • Think once more – how much will be used? Coffee and tea in particular are products that often have a major negative impact on both the environment and people and are thrown away to a large extent, so think twice and maybe make a little less than you think is needed. If there is leftovers after all, put it in the fridge and drink it later as ice-coffee or ice-tea.
  • Always use up leftovers – for lunch boxes or for completely new creative dishes.
  • Put the lunch box in the freezer if you do not know when you will eat it. It’s better to heat it for a few extra minutes in the microwave than to throw it away when it’s bad.
  • Have a special place in the refrigerator for the food and drink that needs to be consumed soon.
  • Freeze – almost everything can be frozen – small amounts of milk and the likes for baking, leftover food in lunch boxes, bananas and some other fruit for smoothies. Some vegetables need to be pre-cooked before they are frozen.
  • Have a tapas night. Use the leftovers from the week. Pick food is both good and social.
  • Only give small portions to the children, and refill as they eat.
  • Go through the whole pantry every now and then and eat what is starting to get old. Remember, however, that most pantry items last long after the best-before date has passed.
  • Think new and innovative: Soft bread that is starting to get dry can be laid out in slices to let it dry completely until it becomes like crusts or crispbread. Salad starting to go bad can be fried in oil and used in a curry for a good main course. The last of the yoghurt when you rinse out the package can be made into a fresh lassi (Indian yoghurt drink) if you use only a small amount of water, shake and pour into a glass.
  • When the cheese starts to run out, peel off all the edges and eat the rest.
  • Eat more vegetables. Beetroot tops can be mixed in a pot or stewed, the hard part of the broccoli or cabbage can be eaten if it is boiled longer, many vegetables are already so well washed that they can be eaten with the skin on, or if just brushed a little.
  • Place the cut-off pieces from vegetables, e.g. top the onion, in the freezer and when you have enough boil it down to a broth. Freeze in portion packs.
  • Are the herbs withering? Cut them into small pieces, divide and put into ice cube molds and fill with olive oil. Put in the freezer and you can have “fresh” herbs all year round!
  • Lower the temperature to 4 degrees in the fridge, then the food can last twice as long compared to if you have 8 degrees in your fridge.
Best-before- and expiration date
  • Learn to distinguish between Best-Before Date and Last Expiration Date. Food does not automatically become inedible or bad to eat after the best-before date if it has been stored correctly. However, the Last Expiration Date label is about how long a food is safe to eat.
  • Properly look at, feel, smell and taste before you throw anything away! Usually the food lasts much longer than the best-before date. If you find it unpleasant to smell in a milk carton, pour a little into a glass so you can see the milk.
  • Learn which foods can be used even though they are moldy – bread and jam (or anything else that contains a lot of water) should be discarded as spores and toxins move easily through them. But with cheese e.g. you can just cut off the piece that is moldy (by a few centimeters margin) and use the rest.
At the restaurant
  • Only take small portions from the buffet table, so you can go back and get more of your favorites if you’re still hungry.
  • Ask for a doggy bag to bring leftovers home with you. This, which has been an obvious thing to do for decades in e.g. New York is now becoming more common here as well.
At work
  • Smell and taste the coffee milk before deciding if it is drinkable.
  • Make only as much coffee as you and your colleagues will drink.  Perhaps it is okay for you to heat up cooled coffee instead of brewing new.
  • Take turns reviewing any shared refrigerator and make sure to use and consume everything before it goes bad.


Page updated 2021