How The “Five Minute” Philosophy Can Help You Fight Food Waste

How The “Five Minute” Philosophy Can Help You Fight Food Waste

Mar 22, 2024Jonathan Englert

Food waste is a global challenge that impacts our environment, economy, and well-being. Despite producing more than enough food to feed everyone, we still struggle with hunger and waste. In fact, in Australia alone, we discard over 7.6 million tonnes of food annually, equivalent to filling the Melbourne Cricket Ground nine times. 

Those kinds of numbers can seem overwhelming, and it can be difficult to understand where to even start when combatting such waste. In fact, because it can seem like we need to do so much, it can be very easy to simply give up before we’ve even started. 

But it doesn’t need to be like that. There’s an excellent article on the ABC that looks at how a person can solve a massive gardening challenge by approaching it in the same way you would playing the guitar – commit to just five minutes per day, and you’ll see results and progress. 

So here’s how we can apply that same philosophy to combatting food waste.

Why Five Minutes Matters

At first, it can seem strange to focus on committing to just five minutes per day to achieve a long-term task. But it’s a proven psychological trick, and it has everything to do with making good practices a habit. 

It’s not just guitar teachers that will recommend it. Spending five minutes a day writing will make you a better writer. The best way to start learning a language is to sit down with Duolingo for just five minutes per day. If you’re a naturally messy person, then committing to five minutes of cleaning each day will see your spaces become clean. 

The “five-minute commitment” works because:

  1. Mindset Shift: Five minutes daily shifts our mindset from overwhelm to achievable action. It’s not about hours; it’s about moments.
  2. Consistency: Consistent small efforts build habits. Imagine the collective impact if everyone commits to these moments.
  3. Incremental Progress: Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither is a sustainable food system. Five minutes daily adds up, like drops filling a bucket.

Five-Minute Actions to Reduce Food Waste

So what are some of these “five-minute actions” that you can use to start getting on top of your personal food waste and reducing, if not eliminating it? 

There are plenty of options, and none of them require any particular expense or skills. In fact, you’ll find yourself saving money when you throw out less produce!

Here are some of the things that you can start with:

  • Check Your Fridge: Spend five minutes daily assessing your fridge. Identify items nearing expiration or leftovers that need use. Plan meals around them. So much food waste occurs because you simply forget the apples, carrots, and other fresh produce that was buried at the back of your fridge, until it’s too late. Doing a simple daily inventory will help avoid this.
  • Repurpose Scraps: Get creative with veggie peels and fruit cores. Turn them into broths, sauces or stock, compost, or even plant them to grow new produce. You’d be surprised just how much you can get out of these waste items.
  • Meal Prep: Invest five minutes in planning meals for the week. To reduce waste, make sure that you put everything that you have to use, and avoid over-buying. If you know what you’ll need in a week, then you’ll also know what you don’t actually need to buy.
  • Donate Excess: While this doesn’t work so well with fresh produce, food banks and soup kitchens are always in need of ingredients. If you’re not going to use something that is approaching its expiry date, donate it and make sure it goes to good use.
  • Learn Storage Tricks: Finally, you’d be surprised just how much further you can stretch the storage time of produce with the right approach to refrigerating it. 

It’s Just Five Minutes…

Five minutes a day may seem small, and that’s exactly the point. Even the busiest among us can find five minutes per day to commit to something, in in-between everything else that we’re doing. 

Will you solve food waste immediately this way? Of course not. But those small steps that you take now will result in better practices over time, and like a snowball rolling down a hill, your efforts will become bigger and more meaningful over time. 

Or, just like you can learn a guitar by committing five minutes to it every day, you can also massively reduce your food waste over time.

More articles