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Let’s call it a challenge, not a crisis

By Kate Parker

27 October 2015
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I’m not quite sure why, but I can hazard a guess as to why Halloween seems to now be as big a news story these days as Glastonbury. When I was 10 years old I might have scrambled together a costume out of a couple of bin bags, a borrowed ballet leotard and some of mum’s old eyeliner at 3pm on the 31st to see if we could score some treats. At worst we would end up with a muesli bar from the next door neighbour and at best a fiver off the old lady down the road who didn’t have any sweets in her pantry but was grateful we’d stopped by for a chat. Cut to 20 years later and it’s the height of the school social calendar. The papers have been talking about it all week, with one online site dedicating a whole lifestyle section to the theme, I’m getting newsletters about the perfect high-street edit to wear on Saturday night to complete your sexy-witch outfit and we’re on the brink of an international pumpkin shortage.

Eclipsing Bonfire Night, it’s now the third biggest event after Christmas and Easter in terms of consumer spending. Last year UK households spent £300m during this period and as with other commercially exploited events, it will generate a huge amount of waste. We can expect to see over 18,000 tonnes of pumpkin sent to landfill. These events are lovely markers in the year but it is time we tackled the waste inflation they cause, particularly when it comes to food.

It’s an issue Forster has been involved with for quite a while. Back in 2011 we developed and ran the National Trust’s first public behaviour change campaign on eating and growing sustainable food, we’ve also worked with Danone to inspire children and their parents to change their relationship to food and encouraged consumers to recycle and reuse through our campaigns with Waste Watch and WRAP. Contrary to the belief of many, company profits and economic growth don’t have to rely on selling more and more stuff. In our recent survey, 68% of businesses feel they should be involved in tackling environmental issues. There are some great business examples that demonstrate it can be viable both financially and ethically to address environmental issues. Last week, Silo, the UK’s first zero-waste restaurant celebrated its first birthday in Brighton despite being told it couldn’t possibly be done by economists. From the innovative US based Hungry Harvest, a surplus produce delivery service, to Dutch based KromKommer who are helping give ‘ugly’ fruit and veg a second chance, businesses are bringing commercial nous to tackling excessive consumption and waste.

Of course it isn’t just businesses – there’s a legion of charities and community-led initiatives out there tackling the issue. Project Dirt is a platform bringing these communities together to galvanise their efforts. This year Hubbub have once again launched the #PumpkinChallenge aimed at squashing food waste (pardon the pun) and it’s all about the turnips in this week’s Forster Veg Drop. What will you be doing to #WasteLess?

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