'Don't give up treats for Lent, give up binning food': UK activists

LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Forget about ditching chocolate, wine or other treats for Lent; environmental activists want Britons to give up another bad habit - binning food.

Environmental charity WRAP says Britons throw away 7.3 million tonnes of household food every year, 60 percent of which could be eaten - enough to fill Wembley Football Stadium eight times over.

Every year millions of people around the world give up treats for the 40 days up to Easter.

But WRAP’s ‘Love Food Hate Waste’ campaign says that instead of abstaining from chocolate, Britons should stop throwing out food. It estimates this could save an average household up to 60 pounds ($75) a month.

“Lent is a perfect opportunity for people to challenge themselves to give up a vice,” campaign manager James McGowan said in a statement.

“Rather than ditching coffee or chocolate that don’t have lasting change, people can bin their bad kitchen habits instead, saving food, money and the planet.”

Many people throw out good food because of confusing “display until” or “sell by” dates on packaging, according to campaigners.

They said such dates were to let shop staff know when to take products off the shelves and could be completely ignored.

Storing food properly, better meal planning and resisting two-for-one offers also helps reduce waste, they added.

Love Food Hate Waste says reducing the amount of food - and packaging - that ends up in the bin not only saves money, but helps slow global warming and deforestation.

Throwing out food wastes the water, energy and fuel needed to grow, store and transport it, campaigners say, while discarded food ends up in landfills where it rots, releasing harmful greenhouse gases.

Lent, which begins on March 1, marks the days leading up to Jesus’ crucifixion when he spent 40 days and nights in the desert being tempted by Satan. Although giving up treats for Lent is rooted in Christian tradition many non-believers also take part.