Impacts of Household Waste & How to Avoid It

Food waste

The Best Before Project is a not-for-profit organisation focused on fighting food waste through informing consumers, retail chains and institutions. By redistributing unwanted food to various charities, this saves energy, resources and prevents products ending up in landfill, whilst feeding thousands of people!

What are the harms of landfill?
The UK has a total of 6.6 million tonnes of household food waste each year, which totals to £14 billion worth of food waste (£205.15 per person in the UK). Food waste thrown into landfill contributes towards 14 million tonnes of greenhouse gases, which is equivalent to 2,762,122 vehicles being driven for one year.

Why is there so much food waste?
The main cause of food waste at a shocking 70% comes from UK households. This can be due to a variety of reasons, including not using food in time, making too much food, food labels being past the date, etc.

Date labels on foods account for 15% of the food waste. According to the British Food Standard Agency, best before dates are about quality, not safety (except for eggs). ‘Use By’ dates are a guide for supermarkets to sell before this date, which is sometimes confused for the ‘Best Before’ date.

Food Standards Agency, WRAP, Best Before Project and Defra have all collaborated to create a Labelling guidance PDF for food businesses. The full version can be seen here:

For consumers, Too Good To Go have launched the ‘Look, Smell, Taste, Don’t Waste’ campaign to encourage people to use their senses before throwing away their food.

Tips by CheaperWaste and Too Good To Go:

  • Make a Plan: make a shopping list and note down any recipes that will use up the remaining food in your fridge.
  • Only buy what you needRe-purpose Food: Use your wilting veg for soups, perk them up again with ice water or saute them with spices. You can find leftover food recipes here:
  • If there is any mould on bread or cheese, cut it off.
  • Use your Freezer: cook in batches and freeze food that is about to go off.
  • Challenge the ‘sell by date’: they are not strict deadlines for the consumer
  • Buy frozen food instead of fresh; it’s cheaper and doesn’t compromise on the quality or nutrition.
  • Compost


Textile waste

What percentage of Landfill is made up from unwanted items?
According to WRAP, 336,000 tonnes of unwanted clothing goes into UK landfill every year, making it the 4th largest cause of environmental pressure. Textiles also cause the 2nd highest pressure on land use and are the 5th largest contributor to carbon emissions from household consumption.

Not only does this waste money and resources, but it can take 200+ years for the materials to decompose in landfill. This generates greenhouse methane gas, and leaches toxic chemicals and dyes into the groundwater and our soil.

Tips on clothing:

  • According to Fashion For Good, by wearing your clothes for an extra nine months, you can reduce waste and water usage by 20-30 per cent.
  • Washing your clothes with cold water on a quick cycle uses half the energy of washing warm. By doing one cold load per week for a year, you can save the carbon equivalent of driving 123km.
  • Caring for your clothes will keep them lasting longer, and reduce the environmental impact they have.
  • Try not to throw any item of unwanted clothing into the bin. They can be reused or recycled and have a potential second life after you’ve finished with it.

If you can’t find another use for your clothes, always put them onto our Swopz Shop website! We give you a money-free way to discover new styles, whilst saving the planet!

Start swapping your pre-loved things for free today! >>

We hope you have found some of these tips useful! If you are looking for a free way to swap clothes locally, make sure to sign up for Swopz Shop today and browse our listings.

You can also follow us on social media for lots more articles like this one on sustainability, money-saving tips, upcycling, recycling, local secondhand swapping events and more!


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