Talking Rubbish Blog

For those of us who know or care, all those skip bins behind shopping centres and food halls are on their way to landfill. Very little commercial organic waste in WA is processed outside a landfill. The despair at the waste is enormous, even more so because we feel powerless to slow it down. But we do it ourselves. Forgotten leftovers, soft fruit, the wilting lettuce, the half eaten apples in the office bin…. all become part of the waste stream. Research shows that the average Australian family throws away $616 of food every year (source: Google food waste statistics)

But the intrigue of the reporter was in the adventure and skill of the bin retrievals. A wedding reception banquet has been created from discarded foodstuffs! To me the real story is the shame on us as a community that demands bountiful shelf-filled shops. How indignant are we if there is only one lettuce and a few tomatoes left on the salad display? We want a choice of at least 12 lettuces to pick and prod. Calculated waste is built in to the supermarket costs. And just look at the excess bread left over at the end of the day in small bakeries!

If we attend a farmers market our expectations are different. When the apples run out, they are finished, we’ve come too late. No built in waste.

We need to lower our expectations and accept a blemish on an orange or a slightly squashed loaf of bread and understand the shop will run out of certain goods. The food going in to skip bins should be everyone’s shame.

Have we lost our sense of frugality and thrift? Are these words even used let alone practiced?

Could you change the way you shop to reduce wastage?


13 Jun 2011 7:00 AM  /   /  3 comments


Holy Toledo, so glad I clicked on this site first!


Wonderful comments. Even if we start by growing a small pot of parsley on our window sill and feel the thrill of eating something we grow ourselves. Change is often difficult and usually uncomfortable so sometimes needs to be in increments.

Michele Kwok

Mass production to satisfy the religion of consumerism at the temple of supermarket is being conditioned into the average persons way of life. Farmers markets certainly cut out supermarket as the middleman. Through the years, supermarket has been dictating what they want to stock, ie, farmers will have to grow fruits and vegs that have long-shelf life, uniformity in colour, size and looks rather than nutrtional value or diversity. Massive cost in fossil fuel as fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides. machineries and transport are poured into this system. We are basically eating oil when we buy products that are produced by conventional methods. The wastage is enormous with mass production...on the farm, at the supermarket and at home. Also fruits and vegies can travel from the other side of the world to reach your dinner plate. A lot of these fruits are picked green and ripen on their way to you, ie, the nutritional value is inferior to those that are picked as they mature from a local producer. How could I change the way I shop to reduce waste? Firstly, grow your own, every standard block in Perth should be able to produce enough vegies to support a small family, ie, you pick fresh from the garden what you will eat, therefore no wastage. Or join a community garden to learn how to grow your own food. Secondly, support your local organic farmers, they are using sustainable methods to produce food without toxic chemical residue in the food. Produce will be seasonal, nutritional and healthy. The fact that they cost more may encourage people to value good quality food rather than wasting them. Thirdly, support local farmers market. While they may be conventional farmers, produce will be seasonal and you are supporting local economy rather than importing food from other countries and supporting their economy instead! For a developing country eg, India, Africa, which are already short in valuable resources eg. water, to buy vegies from them and ending as waste will in effect like pouring their valuable resources into the drain. Conclusion: people need to change their attitude when it comes to food. Invest in good quality wholefood from local farmers rather than going for those cheap, fast convenient processed food in a supermarket aisle that came from a factory! If we all look at what we eat as being sacred, there will be a lot less wastage.

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