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Dumpster Diving: a way to tackle food waste?

Dumpster Diving: a way to tackle food waste?

Image from the Mother Nature Network.

With the number of restaurants, groceries and food shops in London, I guess it’s no secret the city generates a lot of food waste.

Restaurants and groceries and food shops regularly clear their shelves of food and ingredients that are past their prime, but have not necessarily gone bad. Their clients wants the freshest item. I tend to always get the item on the shelf with the longest expiration date, because I don’t want food going off so soon or risking that the food has gone off before the date on the label.

But would you believe that London food waste emits more CO2 than whole of Estonia?

Can we help tackle the problem? Here’s a few things we thought of:

Shop for ingredients you’ll use up on the day. You can save on money and save the food from being thrown away. Groceries usually have a section where there will be food items with marked down prices because they have reached their sell by dates. Vegetable and fruit markets also mark down their prices at the end of the day. (A bit harder than it sounds for those who don’t live near a grocery. Or buying ingredients that comes in packs.)

More on grocery shopping. Consciously get the “ugly” fruits and vegetables – that banana that curved too much, the misshapen carrots. Don’t worry, they would taste the same.

Don’t be shy. Ask for doggy bags. If you can’t finish it, take it home. Restaurants would be more than willing to do this. Chefs would be happy to know that you did not finish your meal because you’re full and not because you don’t like it.

If you’re a food shop owner, time to do something. Out of ideas? here’s something to read – Channel4 asks a few restaurants on what they do with food waste

  • Wahaca uses a company called Aardvark who makes compost from their food waste.
  • Gordon Ramsay’s Boxwood Café checks their bins daily to see what is being thrown away. This way, chefs are accountable for what they throw away.
  • Leon are in a trial to get their kitchen waste composted. They want to get all their packaging compostable but don’t believe that we should be making plastic from food stuff when food security is a growing issue.
  • Pret gives leftover food to the homeless.
  • McDonald’s cooking oil are collected and recycled into bio-oil which powers their delivery fleet.

I don’t really have a clue on how food shops deal with their staff and food wastes. Or the real story behind Whole Foods and Mr. Reese. Rules are rules, but really, fire an employee for eating a sandwich that was to be thrown away? Don’t worry, he challenged the dismissal and won.

And save the best and most extreme for last – would you “dive”? Dumpster diving is nothing new. But what seems to be something that only the homeless person would do, people keen on saving food from the landfill and getting a free lunch have started getting in on the act too. Here are the rules if you would consider dumpster diving. And let us know how it goes.

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eeks! Read here. Yes, we still have a long way to go. I feel a pang of guilt on my end, as I am putting more than what I wanted in my bin. 

Are you doing your bit?

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Hurrah! I think this is really great news. One that says Londoners are more aware and not as apathetic as my last blog might have insinuated. Read more here.

Now, is there such a thing as getting an Organic city status?

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the green show

I had it in my calendar for ages. It was supposed to be the first large scale green event I will be going to (the only one I know so far). And I was excited to see what they will have on offer and what new ideas i can find.

Imagine my disappointment when I looked at their website last week. I lifted this text from there,

“Unfortunately, The Green Show has been postponed indefinitely. We are sorry for any inconvenience.

We discovered that small companies did not have the budget to exhibit at a major show, and that larger companies did not necessarily want the two-way conversation afforded by an ‘green’ exhibition. We also discovered that the potential audience for a consumer ‘green’ show is limited: Some environmentally switched-on people were prepared to make the effort to come along, but in the main, there was considerable apathy from ‘the man in the street.’

It’s possible that someone will stage a large and successful ‘green’ show in London, as they do in other major cities around the world. We wish them good luck, and will be interested to speak with them if they wish to try. “

Apathy? And whilst being in London is where I started to make an effort to ‘green-up’ my lifestyle. This is also where every other person on the tube leaves their paper on the train. Where a mother scoldingly tells her teenage son to leave that can of soda on the pavement. Where builders eating their breakfast on the way to the train station drop their food and packaging as they eat. Where the old and young spit anywhere. And leave their dog’s mess for some poor soul to step on. Where the hurried and busy people dump their plastic sandwich packaging, coffee cups and plastic bags in the bin 3 times in a day. This is where household recycling is worst.

Maybe next year?

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brrr….It is beginning to feel so much like winter, but don’t put that budding environmentalist in you into hibernation.

Here’s a list of events in and around London to keep you (and us) going. And, of course, a dose of shopping wouldn’t hurt as well. We have scoured the web for this list, but this is not exhaustive. If you know of any other green events, email us here (info[at]guui.co.uk).

Plumstead, Greenwich. 9 October (10am-4pm), 12 October (12noon-5pm), 16 October (10am-4pm), 23 October (10am-4pm), 30 October (10am-4pm). Greenwich Eco House Open Days. More info here.

Hornbeam Centre 458 Hoe Street, E17 (corner of Bakers Arms). 11 October. 12noon-5pm. Good Food Swap. Swap your grown produce for somebody else’s pickles and bakes in a locally celebrated ‘good food swap’. Link here.

Highbury Fields School, Islington. 13-19 October. A week of eco activities and energy efficiency tasters. More details here.

Stratford Meridian Square (in front of Stratford Station). 15-17 October. 9am till late. The Keen Green and Ethical Market.

Royal Geographical Society. 16 October 2008 at 7pm. Earthwatch Lecture – Shrinking Habitats, Species Survival. Free! More info here.

Hampton Wick Library. 18 October. 11am. Green Bites. A series of environmental workshops in libraries. Free! Run by the Richmond Council. To book a place ring 020 8912 0653.

Camden Town Hall. 22 Oct 2008. 7pm. The Great African Scandal – Fairtrade event. Find out more here.

Brent Museum, Willesden Green. until 2 November. Exhibition – Greenopaedia. Free! Find out more here.

Scadbury Park, Bromley. 15 November. Tree Planting Event. 10am. Meet at the Old Perry Street car park entrance to Scadbury Park. Run by BEECHE(Bromley’s environmental education centres at High Elms). more information here.

Royal Geographical Society, 1 Kensington Gore, London. 20 November. 7pm. Small donation requested at door. Irreplaceable – The World’s Most Invaluable Species Debate. Run by Earthwatch Europe. find out more here.

Acton Market, The Mount/King Street, Acton Town Centre. Give or take market. Last saturday of each month. 12:30noon-3:30pm. Give away unwanted household or garden goods or pick up something someone else no longer needs for free. Find out more.

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We’ve done our part!

We’ve given away Guui bags on different parts of London. Now, it’s up to those people to use it to contribute to a cleaner environment for their children. By giving it away we’re trying to make people aware of the current environment issues we now face (and could be worse when our children inherit it).

The Guui bag is not only organic, ethical or reusable, as already printed on the bag, but it’s also certified fairly traded. So this bag is not only dealing with one or two issues that we now face but also the issues of child labour or unfair trade practices happening in other countries. By including these issues with this end product we can be sure that we have clear conscience when we use it and we’re not compromising on other issues while trying to deal with what directly affect us.

The more people use bags like this the better for our environment. Others who are currently unaware will be conscious once they see more people using it. From my point this is one way of passing information.

This is not a change in lifestyle – just a different perspective. I hope to see more organic and reusable bags being used around the street.

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