Cambridgeshire couple save £200 a month living on free food that has been thrown away while highlighting food waste epidemic

Sophie and Paul Collins decided to challenge themselves to see if they would be able to spend a month living off free food. Photo: SWNS
Sophie and Paul Collins decided to challenge themselves to see if they would be able to spend a month living off free food. Photo: SWNS
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A young Cambridgeshire couple have survived for a month living on food that would have been thrown away to highlight how much is wasted by Brits.

Married Sophie and Paul Collins decided to challenge themselves to see if they would be able to spend a month living off free food.

Sophie and Paul Collins decided to challenge themselves to see if they would be able to spend a month living off free food. Photo: SWNS

Sophie and Paul Collins decided to challenge themselves to see if they would be able to spend a month living off free food. Photo: SWNS

The food blogging couple, who managed to save around £200 in four weeks, adapted to a completely new way of living as they began to search for food that was available naturally.

The study by the government's waste advisory body, the Waste & Resources Action Programme (Wrap), shows the average UK family is wasting nearly £750 a year by throwing away almost an entire meal a day.

They found food by eating fruits from trees, asking their friends and families for foods they would be throwing out - as well as other produce that have past their sell-by dates.

Paul Collins, 28, said: "There is so much food going to waste everyday, yet so many people have to suffer from hunger.

Sophie and Paul Collins decided to challenge themselves to see if they would be able to spend a month living off free food. Photo: SWNS

Sophie and Paul Collins decided to challenge themselves to see if they would be able to spend a month living off free food. Photo: SWNS

"We did a lot of foraging like collecting apples as some people have boxes outside their houses - that was mostly fruit because most people have fruit trees.

"The biggest collection we done was 12 kilograms of marrow.

"We also asked families to look in their cupboards for what they won't have used for years. We ended up with this big hall of food and we lived off it.

"I would really like to see a change for the better. It is amazing how much you can find."

Self-employed Sophie Collins, 28, added: "For the first week, we struggled getting enough to eat and it was hard to put a proper meal together.

"But then we started to find ways to access more of the food that is being wasted locally."

The married couple, from Cambridge, started this project last month (Sept 15) to raise awareness for the amount of food that is wasted every year.

According to the UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), one third of the food produced in the world for human consumption gets wasted every year - approximately 1.3 billion tons.

And in the UK alone, 8.4m people in the UK struggle to afford a meal, according to the UN's FAO.

To challenge this, Paul and Sophie also used food sharing apps including Olio - which allows you to share free food with your neighbours - as well as visiting the Cambridge Community Fridge - a charity which collects food supermarkets throw away - and rescued out of date food from friends.

Paul said: "I guess the thing that really started us off is that we are big fans of sustainability.

"The Olio app is really good, if you have bought something for a party and there is left overs you can put it on the app rather than throwing it away and it can go to good use.

"And we eventually ended up with super market food because of the different charities with the help from FoodCycle.

"They go around collecting supermarket food and hold the Cambridge Community Fridge."

Sophie added: "Most of our fruit has come from windfalls and surplus from trees around the city."

The couple are now planning on trying to hit their target of £1,000 by hosting a fundraising feast for friends and supporters.

Sophie said: "It would be nice to reach the target and we have plenty of food left over."

Paul added: "The challenge has made us more creative with the food we eat.

"We now know so many great ways to use stale bread - French toast, breaded mushrooms, garlic croutons, that we will never throw away again."

The couple hope their Food Waste Challenge, will inspire others to reduce their own food waste at home and hold supermarkets and suppliers accountable for the waste they produce.

To see more of their projects visit their blog Vegan on board.