Overbuying food at Christmas results in serious food waste

Date released: Dec 14 2011

STOP Food Waste reminds Irish people to shop sensibly this festive season

Food waste in Irish homes increases substantially over Christmas, with more food thrown out during the festive season than at any other time of the year, according to STOP Food Waste; a programme developed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). This year Stop Food Waste are encouraging people to plan ahead to prevent food waste.

As well as the effects on the environment associated with sending this waste to landfill, there are also ethical and moral arguments for avoiding waste, especially when food is scarce in many part of the world. Of course more immediately it will save you money, with the average Irish family throwing out €700 worth of food each year.

“There is always a peak in food waste during the festive season. Panic bulk buying and over compensating on what’s needed has a negative effect on both personal finances and ultimately on the environment, when this waste goes to landfill. However, with a little forward planning and preparation that can be avoided. Stopping food waste starts at the point at which you buy your groceries, continues in to your home to where and how you store and cook what you have bought and on to what you do with your left overs. At each of these stages food waste can be avoided and that is what the STOP Food Waste Movement is all about,”

said Odile Le Bolloch, Stop Food Waste Spokesperson with the EPA.
Wicklow County Council together with Stop Food Waste have this year come up with some top tips to assist in better buying and food preparation this Christmas.

  1. Make a shopping list checking what items you already have in stock before leaving the house.
  2. Think back about last year and try to identify what items remained unused at the end of the season. Was it because it was an unpopular food item in the household or a product that was bought in too large a quantity?
  3. Go against tradition. If there is something on the Christmas menu that nobody really likes or more probable that no one has room for, why not leave it out this year?
  4. Pay particular attention when planning parties or dinners for guests. Try to limit the amount of quickly perishable foods served on the night to what you know will be used. Unlike other times of the year the leftovers from a party are a hard sell when a house is full of goodies. Have some non-perishable snacks in stock which can remain unopened until the perishable items are used.
  5. Don’t overstock on basics such as bread and milk. Supermarkets and local shops re-open very quickly after Christmas so there is usually less need to have extra supplies.


“Another top tip to avoid food waste is to consider left over recipes to use up what’s left after Christmas dinner. Why not check out the 12 Days of Christmas guide, containing some quick and easy recipes to make the most of your Christmas menus”

added Odile.

The STOP Food Waste programme is funded under the EPA National Waste Prevention Programme (NWPP). Waste Prevention is the preferred waste management option in Ireland. By not generating waste, we can eliminate the need to handle, transport, treat and dispose of waste. We can also avoid having to pay for these services. In light of the significant issues arising from the disposal of food waste, and the realisation of the costs associated with this, the NWPP Prevention Plan 2009-2012 set out to promote food waste prevention and home composting.

Additional Information

Visit the StopFoodWaste website for TOP SHOPPING TIPS for any time of the year!

  • Don’t go shopping when you are hungry - you’ll buy more than you need!
  • If you are shopping for the week try and plan your meals ahead.
  • Check your fridge, freezer and cupboards before you go shopping and plan meals around what you find.
  • Then make a shopping list...and try to stick to it!
  • Beware of special deals - these are great for toilet rolls and shampoo but bad for fruit, veg and salads (anything that is best eaten fresh). These are the things we buy because of a "good deal" but often do not get eaten.
  • Try and buy loose fruit and veg - you get what you need and can cut down on packaging waste in your bin as well.
  • Check use-by dates to avoid buying food that might get thrown out if not eaten immediately.
  • Poke around at the back of shelves - you’ll often find ‘use-by dates’ that are further away.
  • Shop for what you actually eat, not for what you want/wish you would eat (e.g. "I am going to be really healthy this week and eat lots of yogurts!") and then not eat them!
  • If it’s an option for you, try shopping online for the basics - you get what you want and save money by not being tempted to buy more on visual impulse.

About Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

The Environmental Protection Agency is Ireland's statutory body for the balanced and sustainable protection and management of the environment. The EPA has responsibilities for a wide range of licensing, enforcement, monitoring and assessment activities associated with environmental protection.