Bread is one of the most ancient and symbolic foods of mankind. So what does it say about us that every day, in the UK alone, we throw 24 million slices of bread in the bin? That’s a LOT of bread waste. In fact, almost half of all bread produced here in the UK, 44%, is thrown away. It's our single biggest source of food waste.
So, how do you stop wasting bread? Well, you can start very simple: by only buying what you need. Store bread in a relatively cool place (like an airtight tin, cloth bag, or tea towel). A bread bin is ideal to keep bread fresher for longer - it works by trapping moisture to prevent the bread from drying out. The tighter the seal on the bread box, the better it works.
Never store bread in the fridge as it will go stale much faster. Nor in plastic bags - this leads to moisture and mould. Try moistening and re-baking bread after a couple of days. And then freeze before it goes stale. Bread freezes very well, with almost no loss in texture or quality.
The bread waste issue doesn’t end there. Most bread is stored in soft plastic bags – these end up in landfill with the mouldy bread. Soft plastics – anything “scrunchable” - are recyclable in theory, but the reality is different. Soft plastics can only be recycled in specialised facilities. And they can only be recycled once, into hard plastic, to make park benches. How many park benches do we need? We can’t all be sitting around in parks.
To avoid soft plastics, buy loose loaves in your own bread bag, or even better, make your own bread! Bread is one of our favourite DIY pantry staples to avoid packaging. And since lockdown, everyone's become an expert - no doubt one of your friends can share their sourdough starter.
So what can you do with too much bread? Well, this has been issue for centuries, which is why people have invented recipes for croutons, french toast, schnitzel or bruschetta! Get creative and use up your stale bread! And if you still have leftovers, just make sure they go in the compost.
If you want to do even more to fight bread waste, try Toast Ale beer. Craft beer brewed in the UK from bread loaves that would have gone to landfill – it's the best thing since.. well, you know.
What's your top tip for avoiding bread waste? Share in the comments below!