In my blog post C, I wrote about the Love Food Hate Waste movement, which is an initiative funded by the NSW government to raise awareness about the repercussions of food waste and encourage individuals to change their lifestyles to reduce such waste. For my organic waste management proposal, I wish to concentate on the issue of food waste, and focus it to an institution where I believe such an iniative will have a high impact, namely, in primary and secondary schools.
My proposal is to reduce food waste by individuals through enacting a series of measures in schools. This proposal aims to educate students about the social and environmental impacts of wasting food, and to teach them to develop sustainable practices when it comes to food waste (these learnings will also hopefully carry through to other types of waste, e.g. recycling paper, etc.)
I chosen to concentrate on schools in my proposal because I believe institutes of learning are some of the best places in which to enact new ideas. Students are constantly learning, and in an environment where all their lives they have been following rules, and are thus more likely to accept new ideas and ways of doing things. Children, especially younger children, are also quite impressionable. The same is true of adolescents (Nuwer 2012). It is quite easier to form good habits in childhood which are then naturally carried over into adulthood, than to try to improve less-than-ideal habits in adults. Therefore a campaign directed at a younger audience would likely be more efficient and effective.
A variety of methods could be used to educate students about the problems of food waste. These can be active measures, such as talks, presentations, and excursions, or more passive measures such as through posters and signage.
The practical measures made to deal with organic waste in schools would include having separate bins that are dedicated to organic waste, and having on-site worm farms or composting facilities. Dedicated bins for organic waste makes the recycling process easier and cheaper, and trains students to think of waste in a more sophisticated way (i.e. as opposed to putting everything in a bin that gets carted off to landfill). Worm farms and/or composting facilities would be a practical way to educate students about ways to repurpose organic waste, and would be beneficial to soil and gardens of school grounds (Practical Action n.d.). The presence of these measures would also help normalise the idea that organic waste should be treated differently to other types of waste, and that it should first and foremost be reused, rather than simply disposed of in landfill.
Another consideration of food wastage is the disposal of perfectly edible food. Instead of allowing students to throw away their food, collection facilities could be installed where students can donate unwanted, unopened/uneaten food. This could be a way for children to swap food with each other and/or donate to food banks for those in need. After all, it is estimated that 20% of food purchased by Australians is thrown away (GiveNow 2016). Meanwhile, those suffering from poverty go hungry.
Below is a part of an infographic illustrating the problem of food waste in Australia; click-through for the full image.
Foodwise 2016, Fast Facts on Food Waste, viewed 15 June 2016, http://www.foodwise.com.au/foodwaste/food-waste-fast-facts/.
GiveNow 2016, Give Food, viewed 15 June 2016, https://www.givenow.com.au/otherways/food.
Love Food Hate Waste 2016, About Us, viewed 14 June 2016, http://www.lovefoodhatewaste.nsw.gov.au/about-us/about-us.aspx.
Nuwer, R. 2012, Teenage Brains Are Like Soft, Impressionable Play-Doh, The Smithsonian.com, viewed 15 June 2016, http://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/teenage-brains-are-like-soft-impressionable-play-doh-78650963/?no-ist.
Practical Action n.d., Recycling Organic Waste, viewed 14 June 2016, https://practicalaction.org/docs/technical_information_service/recycling_organic_waste.pdf.