Scotland's National Chef shares tips on how to waste less food this Christmas

Insight reveals just one portion of Christmas dinner wasted produces the same emissions as having your Christmas lights on for the whole of December.

Published 12th Dec 2021
Updated 9 th Aug 2023

Scotland’s National Chef, Gary Maclean has called on Scots to think fast on food waste, as research shows that just one portion of Christmas dinner wasted produces the same carbon emissions as having your Christmas lights on every day in December.

Shining a light on the shocking carbon cost of food that goes uneaten, the insight comes as Zero Waste Scotland anticipates 67 million meals will be needlessly wasted in Scotland this month alone.

Masterchef: The Professionals winner, Gary, hopes the drive will encourage Scots to make small actions to reduce festive food waste this year.

Commenting on the campaign, Gary said: “As a nation of food lovers with an enviable natural larder, it’s absolutely devastating to think of the carbon emissions that discarded Christmas dinners will produce in Scotland this year.

“We’re all aware that we can help reduce our carbon footprint by switching off our lights. I want to shine a light on the devastating impact our uneaten food will have on the environment this festive season.

“That’s why I’m calling on Scots to take action to reduce food waste this Christmas - by being more savvy with their shopping, serving up smartly, loving their leftovers and more.”

Gary’s top tips for limiting food waste at home

  • Shop savvy – Overbuying is one of the biggest causes of food waste - plan ahead to buy your turkey and just the right amount of trimmings for your family.
  • Cook correctly – Cook your turkey upside down and at a lower temperature to reduce the chances of the meat drying out and becoming unpalatable.
  • Serve buffet-style – Serving Christmas dinner buffet-style means guests can choose their preferred portion size, helping to reduce leftovers.
  • Love leftovers – Still got some leftovers? Get creative in the kitchen to make everything from a breakfast hash to party food, making the most of excess ingredients.

Iain Gulland, Chief Executive at Zero Waste Scotland said: “Incredibly, 67 million meals could be thrown away in Scotland in December. We know people want to do their bit for the environment and we want to support everyone with a simple message – the easiest way you can fight climate change this festive season is by reducing the amount of food you waste. It’s as simple as that.”

Zero Waste Scotland is aiming to raise awareness of food waste during the festive season, as despite food waste being a significant contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, only 22 per cent of Scots say they are fully aware of this.

In fact, if global food waste were a country, it would be the third biggest emitter of greenhouse gas emissions in the world after America and China, and almost a million tonnes of food is thrown away in Scotland each year. Over half of this comes from our households, so fighting food waste is an important step Scots can take each day to cutting the carbon footprint.

More information and recipe inspiration can be found online at Zero Waste Scotland

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Known for cake making, experimental jam recipes, Champagne, whisky and gin drinking (and the inability to cook Gnocchi), Rosalind is the Food and Drink Editor and whisky writer for The Scotsman, as well as hosting Scran, The Scotsman's food and drink podcast.
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