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Changing the Food Waste Narrative

Throwing away leftover food… do any of these sound familiar?

  1. It’s easier.

  2. It saves me time.

  3. I’ll just recycle it.

  4. It’s old so better throw it out.

There is nothing wrong with these behaviours because everyone is doing it.  Right?

Well….here is a quick snapshot of what’s going on as a result of the above social narratives:

We throw out over 2 billion tons of household waste a year globally. That’s more than 60 tons of waste every second.

As the world’s population get bigger, so does waste generation. By 2050 the amount of household waste will grow by 70 percent reaching 3.4 billion tons a year.

Australians produce 540kg of household waste per person, each year. That’s more than 10kg for every single person, every single week.  Up to half of everything in people’s household bins, is on average, food waste, with Australians sending over 5.3 million tonnes of food waste to landfill every year.

This is mindblowing!

There are no two ways around it – our accepted social norms and narratives around waste, need to change,  and change quickly.

We have managed to make incredible changes around the plastic pollution problem.  Keep cups, stainless steel straws and reusable shopping bags have all become normalised.

I am calling on you to step up and make a pledge towards reducing your food waste contribution- now.

For many of us, food has become an inconvenience in our lives – it takes time out of our week to shop, choose, unpack, store, prepare and cook this food.  People who cook at each meal time of the day – are overachieving – cooking is becoming a little bit of a lost art.  People who use their leftovers, compost or use every little bit of their produce are considered left-field of the norm.  They are relegated to the hippie-zone.

Curiously enough, however, there appears to be a new zero-waste movement coming out of the woodwork amongst the millennials.  These guys haven’t embraced a hippie lifestyle, but more of a modern minimalist lifestyle.  The growing zero-waste community is radically slashing their waste output, while living more fulfilling lives.

This is the new narrative that food waste needs –  saving food is trendy, fun and fulfilling.

Zero-waste is really about trying to minimize your trash and making better choices.  In turn, as we continue to do this in larger numbers, we form amazing communities, make new friends, and encounter new opportunities.

For those of you who are just starting out on your food waste reduction journey, here are a few tips that will allow you to see all the food waste you are generating.  It may help you to put it in perspective:

  1. Start separating your waste, including compostable items: This way, you will be able to see how much of each type of waste you are generating in a week.  What could you do differently to reduce each pile?

  2. Once you have separated the compostable items, put them in a visible place: This is how much food waste you are generating.  Is that 50% of your waste, or more?  Research one recipe a week that you could have made out of something from your compost pile.

  3. Do a fridge and/or pantry clean out. When you are rearranging your items, put the oldest items the front: How much “old” food do you have hanging around?  How could you change your shopping and cooking habits to change this?

  4. Take a photo of your compost pile that you throw out at the end of each week and put a pricetag on this waste pile: How many half eaten meals were in there?  Produce that you never got to use?  Things that had expired before you got to eat them? How much $$ would you have saved- if you hadn’t purchased them in the first place?

I will end with a bit of inspiration.  As you consider your own contribution to the food waste issue that we globally face, I encourage you to have a quick watch of this link to, be inspired by how a mason jar can hold 4 years of waste:

Also, be inspired by some of the little things you can do to start making a difference:

“We don’t need a handful of people doing zero waste perfectly. We need millions of people doing it imperfectly.” – Anne Marie Bonneau


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