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KAREN CANNARD: Let’s get to grips with food waste

A personal view
A personal view

As we nibble through the Christmas leftovers and mince pies, The Rubbish Diet social enterprise is now getting prepared for the New Year celebrations, launching its biggest national campaign yet.

The website is all ready, with an easier-than-ever slimmed-down diet to help our bulging waste-lines. With just two steps – to tackle recycling and to make the most of our food – the Love Your Bin campaign encourages the nation to take the Rubbish Diet challenge as this year’s New Year’s resolution and to see what a difference we can all make in 2015.

Karen Cannard - focusing on food waste ANL-141223-101325001
Karen Cannard - focusing on food waste ANL-141223-101325001

With Bury St Edmunds being the ‘birthplace’ of The Rubbish Diet, I’d love as many people as possible to sign up around West Suffolk. It’s one of the most rewarding New Year resolutions that I’ve ever taken – especially when it comes to saving cash, bringing the family on board and getting rid of some of that green guilt. To discover what you can achieve, either individually or as a community group, sign up at www.therubbishdiet.org.uk.

My own New Year’s resolution for 2015 is to help raise the profile of Suffolk as a county that cares about its waste footprint, especially food waste. I predict that over the next few years, the issue of food waste is going to rise even higher on the national agenda. We’ve already seen, in recent weeks, a focus in the media on the imbalance of surplus produce going to waste against a background of increasing levels of food poverty. Environmentally, food waste is also bad news, especially when taking into account the impacts of the wasted water and energy used in farming, manufacture and transportation of food that is consequently binned.

While national think tanks strategise over how the country can get on top of the issue, I am keen to explore how – from farm to fork – our local farmers, retailers, restaurateurs and public organisations are affected by food waste in Suffolk and to profile any steps they are taking to successfully reduce it. I also want to highlight what existing measures are in place to connect surplus produce with charities and if there is even more that can be done locally. And I want to discover which supermarkets are making most effort to reduce waste in their distribution chains.

If you have an interest in this topic, I’d love to hear from you. Are you a local business, social-entrepreneur or a community with ideas that you’d love to get off the ground? Perhaps you’re a farmer at the very start of the process whose only option is to dig unwanted produce back into the ground? Or maybe you run a large catering service in one of our local schools or public organisations that’s tackled food waste head on?

Everyone is affected by food waste, whether at home or at some point in the supply chain, even if it’s simply down to the prices we pay for the cost of wastage somewhere in that chain. So I’m looking forward to discovering those who are making a difference in our corner of the UK and uncovering the issues and opportunities for innovation that still remain unaddressed – and where possible, connecting to some of the fabulous schemes that are taking place elsewhere.

So if you or your organisation are committed to making 2015 the year we do more to tackle food waste, please get in touch. Just drop me a line at karen@therubbishdiet.org.uk or tweet me @karencannard.

Meanwhile, a Happy New Year to you all. And if you’re looking for a top tip to help with any surplus leftovers during the party season, I recommend getting friendly with your freezer. Did you know you can freeze most food up until its use-by-date? Find more tips at http://england.lovefoodhatewaste.com/content/freezer-advice-and-facts