North Coast

Northern Rivers households could save up to $3,800 a year by being food smart

Northern Rivers households are being invited to sign up to a free program to help reduce food waste and go in the draw to win a freezer. The program called ‘Food Smart’ helps people save money, eat healthier and make smart decisions to keep good food out of the bin. For 3 weeks, households will receive food storage tips, recipes, hints, meal plan ideas and smart shopping solutions to help make the change. With a freezer as the ultimate prize for those completing the program, there’s never been a better time to join Food Smart.

Linda Tohver, from North East Waste, says the Northern Rivers is just one of four regions across NSW that is stepping up to reduce food waste. “Despite the best efforts of many people to compost, use a worm farm or put food in their green bin, there is still so much food that could have been eaten that is going to waste,” says Linda. “Often, this just happens because the food in your pantry or fridge has been forgotten about and not used in time. And a lot of perfectly good food is simply being discarded. Good food really shouldn’t end up in any bin.”

But Linda says the COVID-19 pandemic has been a big wake-up call, especially when it comes to food. “Many people are re-thinking the way they shop and how to make the food and dollars stretch further,” says Linda. “About $10 billion worth of good food is thrown away every year by NSW households. That’s an average of $3,800 a year per household.”

“But it’s not just about the hip pocket. It’s also about the environmental impact, particularly when you think about the amount of resources that go into making our food. Throwing away just one burger wastes the same amount of water as a 90-minute shower. And then there’s the food miles to transport the food, and the amount of energy needed to manufacture and package the products.”

Linda says plenty of people have good intentions to throw out less food, but it often ends up in the too hard basket when life gets busy. “That’s where Food Smart comes in,” says Linda. “We take away the overwhelm by guiding you through a step-by-step process, so that you can make lasting changes at home. You’ll get motivating emails with free recipes, meal plan ideas and the chance to join some fantastic free workshops.”

Households that sign up and complete the 2 week program by 31st January, will go in the draw to win a brand-new upright freezer worth around $750.

“With around 300,000 people living in the Northern Rivers, imagine the difference we could all make. We could really change the game when it comes to throwing away good food, not just in our individual homes, but across the entire region,” says Linda.

The free Food Smart Program is open to households in the Ballina, Byron, Clarence Valley, Kyogle, Lismore, Richmond Valley and Tweed local government areas. Sign up online to the Food Smart Program at

Food Smart is a Love Food Hate Waste Program coordinated by North East Waste on behalf of its member north coast Councils and the NSW Waste Less Recycle More initiative funded by the waste levy.