Category Archives: sustainability

26. Food for thought campaign

I have been a bit neglectful of this blog, but maybe with the end of semester and the quiet period which usually happens around Christmas-time (for my work) I actually may be able to get the pile of reading done and get some more ideas down on this page.

My reading list includes (but is not limited to):

  • Naomi Klein: This Changes Everything
  • Paul Ehrlich: One with Nineveth
  • Russell Brand: Revolution
  • Simon Sinek: Start with Why
  • Jared Diamond: Guns, Germs and Steel
  • Jared Diamond: Collapse
  • Mark Lynas: Six Degrees
  • Clive Hamilton: Growth Fetish
  • Helena Norberg-Hodge: Ancient Futures

…plus anything else I have listed here earlier and not got to 😦

And I still have to finish the Yale Online course by Kelly Brownell: The Psychology, Biology and Politics of Food (see:

So, in the meantime, here is the essay: the communications strategy that I wrote for my last assignment for this semester. I have taken the liberty of slightly editing it (to my horror, after it was submitted and marked, I reviewed my work and found at least three literals 😦 )

I hope you find something that inspires you!

Task 3: Communications Strategy SUS 202

To develop an effective trans media communications strategy that informs public action, it is best to devise a holistic approach that touches on the facts of, debate about, and action for the sustainability issue at hand (Newig et at. 2013).

By combining the principles of social marketing, (French 2009), psychological and behavioural change research (Reynolds 2010, Sharp et al 2010, Cialdanni et al. 1981, Crompton & Thogersen 2009 and McKenzie-Mohr 2000) and sustainability communication theory (Cox 2007, Futerra 2005, Moser 2010, and Nisbet & Scheufele 2009) it is anticipated that the following strategy will deliver positive behavioural change within the target group: making them more food aware and less wasteful.

The Food for Thought Campaign

The issue: Food waste

According to the Food Waste Avoidance Studies 2010 ‘People waste food because they buy and cook too much, don’t finish their meals, and don’t store food correctly’ (Sustainability Victoria 2011). Other contemporary studies show that landfill comprises up to 62% of organic materials (Closed Loop 2014), with significant contribution coming from Australian households—only 33% of the Australian adult population composts or recycles food waste all or most of the time[1] (ABS 2007). Domestic food waste has significant environmental, social and economic implications, which can and should be addressed.

Communications goals

The ultimate goal of this communication strategy is to change attitudes and behaviours of individuals towards food and food waste and further to influence individuals’ actions and decision making about the foods they buy, cook, consume and discard. Modelled on the work reported by Sharp et al. (2010 p 257)—specifically the NLWA campaign, it is predicted that attitudes and behaviours will change in a meaningful and measurable way.

While it is planned as a seeding project, it is hoped that resources developed and made available both at delivery (guest presentation) and mirrored online, will endure over time, enabling the target audience to use and distribute the resources and in effect become messengers in their own right.

Target audience

Research has shown that a significant proportion of Australian adults (41%) are unaware of the impacts of organics in landfill (Closed Loop 2014). While it would be desirable to design a campaign to connect with all Australians, this strategy proposes to engage at the community level with service groups (Rotary, Lions and Apex). Perhaps this group can become what Kevin Allocca (2010), Trends Manager at YouTube, describes as ‘Tastemakers’: those who will introduce the insights of this campaign to a larger audience.

According to surveys and audits conducted by the Victorian Government (Sustainability Victoria 2011), three of the top four groups of food wasters include households with incomes more than $130K per annum, households with incomes of $65–80K per annum and families with children. The service group demographic captures all three of these identified segments.

As service group members, the target audience is already one receptive to ideas of improvement, positive, lasting change, and social justice. This group will include men and women who range in age from 18 to 80+.


Reynolds (2010) echoes the assertions of Newig (2013) when he states that ‘telling people what to do is, usually, not enough. Nor is informing them why they should do it’ (p. 42). Further, ascertaining beliefs, motivations and behaviours, understanding the environment in which the audience lives, and building a package of opportunities, services and support that responds to their real-life wants and needs, enables the adoption of new, socially beneficial behaviours (Kotler & Zaltman 1971). For this service-based oriented audience, the framing of the ‘Food for Thought’ campaign will be based on social progress lines: highlighting positives the audience can use in their daily lives, that can be shared with others and that will deliver ‘triple-bottom line’ benefits (social, economic and environmental) for all.

Key messages

According to Warde (2005) consumption patterns are seen as embedded within social practices and not seen as a result of individuals’ attitudes, values and behaviours. The issue should be framed in a way that informs and empowers the audience: for them to take control and to question the status quo (do we even recognise that we are wasting so much food and what the implications are?). To know and to do and to effect change will be powerful. By focusing on enabling action through practical and achievable lifestyle tips rather than as an exhortation or instruction simply about waste (Sharp et al. 2010) should convey a sense of helpfulness in the presentation.

A personal narrative journey will be woven around three key messages that will create a strong focus for the campaign, and allow for extra, reflection within audience. The chosen messages are:

  • ‘Knowledge is powerful and transformative’
  • ‘Every little bit counts’
  • ‘Be challenged: look for the improvements’

The beauty of these messages is that they can be transposed onto other sustainable lifestyle issues for example energy and water use, and single-use plastics.


As detailed in Sharp et al. (2010 p 256), ‘engaging enthusiastic champions as part of the process early on is deemed a key success factor…to help develop social norms’. The ‘Food for Thought’ campaign hinges on the delivery of information by a food waste evangelist who can be identified by the target audience as ‘one of their own’—chosen from the same general demographic. According to Fenton (2001), a trusted messenger will be the most persuasive. The material has core messages and will follow a narrative arc, but the presentation, by its very nature will be able to be tailored by any individual who is passionate about the issue and wants to share their own journey.

Modes and tools

As studies have shown (Sharp et al. 2010) behaviour change is most impacted by a campaign based on a collection of tools and measures. While this campaign has a guest presentation at its core, supporting, ancillary materials will also be made available.

Conducted over five weeks for each group, the campaign takes the following form:

1) Pre-presentation survey: Week 1

An information-gathering survey will be designed and distributed a week in advance for audience members to complete and bring along on the night. This will help inform the presentation and prepare the audience.

2) Presentation 1: The Introduction and Challenge: Week 2

The core component of the strategy is a guest presentation, as per the time and format of the chosen service club. Typically this is a 10–20 minute timeslot with a further 10 minutes for questions and answers. Depending on the presenter and the facilities available, the following is a list of presentation aids that can be used:

  • a quick ‘Go Soapbox’ session designed to include the audience via smartphone participation in real-time data gathering on pre-presentation attitudes and opinions.
  • Powerpoint or Prezi presentation — a narrative based on personal experience and practical advice for addressing food waste supported by sourced food waste facts and figures.
  • Point specific info graphic postcards which include blog/website details and Twitter hashtag information.

3) The challenge: Weeks 3–4

Willing participants register to participate in a two-week challenge to monitor their ‘normal’ base-line food waste for a week and then to implement thoughtful food practices for a subsequent week and report their responses. The challenge will be delivered either as hard-copy or online survey thus catering for audience preference and access. Participants will be prompted via email to help manage the process. A dedicated blog/website will serve as a focal point for ongoing questions and answers.

4) Presentation 2: Revelations, insights and discussions: Week 5

As this campaign is designed to inspire and engage on a personal level, it is only fitting that results from the challenge and insights gained by the participants be shared with the group. It is essential that issues of privacy be observed, but both quantitative data from the challenge be graphed and presented, and with permission, qualitative observations shared. What is hoped is that participants will be inspired to seek answers to bigger picture questions involving legislation around food labeling and opportunities for waste collection.

5) Online and other resources: From Week 1 and ongoing

All info graphics will be designed into a set of postcards that will be available at the presentation and also distributed via Avante Card (if, for no other reason, than to reach a wider audience). These same graphics will be made available for distribution as individual graphics on FaceBook and attached to the blog/website where all info graphics will be available (to download and print or to share). This blog/website will also serve as a central hub for useful links to other resources on food waste and other relevant sustainability topics. These will include, but are not limited to, book reviews, courses, documentaries, TEDTalks and websites.

PDFs of the info graphics could be further used to illustrate a series of ‘Letters to the Editor’ for local newspapers and/ or made available as part of a feature article in the organisation’s newsletter or magazine.

Monitoring and evaluation

Because of the design of the campaign which includes feedback at the time of the presentation, and data as gathered in the form of the challenge, it should be easy to see the impact of the campaign on the core target audience.

Data will also be able to be monitored as to impact based on the number of hits on the blog/website, the number of tweets on the presentation and also the tracked as distribution of single-issue info graphics as shares on FaceBook and beyond.

Reynolds (2010, p. 45) suggests that ‘engagement in a new behaviour can fundamentally alter how we perceive ourselves’. This is surely the enduring hope of those who work to promote sustainability issues. It is anticipated that through the ‘Food for Thought’ campaign, real and lasting new behaviours will result—and maybe from that, engender a greater understanding of ourselves as thoughtful citizens—open to tackle other sustainability challenges in ours lives.


Allocca, K ‘Why videos go viral’ 2011 TEDYouth Filmed Nov 2011

Australian Bureau of Statistics (2007). 4102.0—Australian Social Trends, 2007 Household waste Available from:

Cialdini, RB, Petty, RE & Cacioppo (1981) ‘Attitude and attitude change’ Ann. Rev. Psychol. 32, 357–404

Closed Loop (2014). Australia’s attitudes to compost—survey April 2014
Available via download from

Cox, R (2007). ‘Nature’s “Crisis Disciplines”: Does Environmental Communication Have an Ethical Duty?’ Environmental Communication, 1 (1) 5–20, DOI: 10.1080/17524030701333948

Crompton, T, & Thogersen, JB (2009). ‘Simple and Painless? The Limitations of Spillover in Environmental Campaigning’. Godalming: WWFUK, Available at

Fenton Communication (2001). Now hear this: the nine laws of successful advocacy communication [online]

French, J (2009). ‘The nature, development and contribution of social marketing to public health practice since 2004 in England’ Perspectives in Public Health, 129:262
DOI: 10.1177/1757913909347665

Futerra Sustainability Communications Ltd. (2005). Communicating sustainability: how to produce effective public campaigns. UNEP/Earthprint.

Kotler, P, Zaltman, G (1971). ‘Social marketing: An approach to planned social change. Journal of Marketing 35, 3–12

McKenzie-Mohr, D (2000). ‘Promoting Sustainable Behavior: An Introduction to Community-Based Social Marketing’ Journal of Social Issues, 56(3), 543–554

Moser, SC (2010). Communicating climate change: history, challenges, process and future directions. Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Climate Change, 1(1), 31–53.

Newig, J, Schulz, D, Fischer, D, Hetze, K, Laws, N, Lüdecke, G & Rieckmann, M (2013). ‘Communication Regarding Sustainability: Conceptual Perspectives and Exploration of Societal Subsystems’ Sustainability, 5, 2976–2990 doi:10.3390/su5072976

Nisbet MC & Scheufele, DA, (2009). ‘What’s next for science communication? Promising directions and lingering distractions’ American Journal of Botany 96, 1767–1778 doi:10.3732/ajb.0900041

Reynolds, L (2010). ‘The sum of the parts: Can we really reduce carbon emissions through individual behavior change?’ Perspectives in Public Health, 130: 41
DOI: 10.1177/1757913909354150

Sharp, V, Giorgi, S & Wilson, DC (2010). Delivery and impact of household waste revention intervention campaigns (at the local level) Waste Management & Research 28, 256–268 DOI: 10.1177/0734242X10361507

Sustainability Victoria (2011). Victorian Statewide Garbage Bin Audits: Food, Household Chemicals and Recyclables Available online via

Warde, A (2005). ‘Consumption and theories of practice’ Journal of Consumer Culture 5 (2), 131–154.

[1] while the same study showed that 84% of Australians sorted recyclable from no-recyclable waste all or most of the time


25. Documentaries

We are up to Week 10 in my course and we have looked at all sorts of ways sustainability has been communicated, and currently the focus is on film and documentaries.

So, over the last few days I have watched my fair share of documentaries on sustainability issues and today I posted a small list of my favourites…so far… We were supposed to post one, but I put up six and they are:


The Century of the Self (TRAILER:
The Crisis of Civilization (TRAILER:
The Clean Bin Project (TRAILER:
…and I am anxiously anticipating the release of Just Eat It (by the people who did The Clean Bin Project: TRAILER:

There are many more that I want and need to watch including all of the Years of Living Dangerously TV series, The Economy of Happiness, The Corporation, Trashed, Baraka…and there are others…but I shall revisit those here, if warranted, as I get through them.

The documentary I watched today was The Age of Stupid (TRAILER:

If I had watched it in 2009 when it was produced I would have been very moved and indeed probably agitated into commencing my sustainability journey earlier.

Two things.

1: What rock was I under in 2009 that I did not even KNOW about this movie?

2: We have done very bloody little in the past 5 years to seriously address climate change, and here in Australia we have probably retreated in our efforts to fight climate change in any meaningful way. This doco is well worth watching—pitched as if looking back to the turn of the 21st Century, it reports from 2055 as to how things unfolded, following a number of story lines in parallel from different parts of the globe.

I have to say I had total WTF moments where I just could not believe the irrationality of some of the real life participants. Highly commended, albeit a bit on the depressing side if you, as I, feel frustrated and cranky about how sustainability issues including climate change appear to still be without any tangible traction.




23. Some interesting quotes

Just a few of the really interesting quotes from the materials I have read over the last few weeks:

“Since 1950 alone, the world’s people have consumed more goods and services than the combined total of all humans who have ever walked the planet” (Tilford 2000)

“Sustainability isn’t hard; it’s just not simple” Jedička 2010

“Nobody wakes up in the morning calculating how to trash the planet. Instead our daily lives are a series of choices, each minuscule in its daily impact. But when multiplied billions of times, day after day, year after year, the impact is enormous” Jedička 2010

“Human wellbeing does not require high levels of consumption” Jedička 2010

“Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could only do a little” Edmund Burke

One of my other really favourite quotes is rather longer and comes from a paper I read by Bob Doppelt in Semester 1, but it sticks with me as I think about what comes next, and what is really important to us all…

It comes from a paper entitled From me to we: The five transformational commitments required to rescue the planet, your organisation and your life [Systems Thinker Vol 23 No 8 Oct 2012]. It goes like this:

Imagine, for a moment, that a genie suddenly whisks you away from your everyday life and makes you the world’s most powerful decision maker. At your fingertips is the most up-to-date information about the planet’s economic, social and environmental conditions. You can use that data to make any type of decision you want about how resources and wealth should be allocated and how things should function.

But there is a catch. The genie has also given you amnesia. You cannot remember your social status, nationality, gender, ethnicity, religious affiliation, how much money you have, or even who your parents are. Consequently, you don’t know what the effects of your decisions will be on your loved ones because you don’t know who you are or where you live.

Under these conditions, what decisions would you make? Would you use as much energy, consume as many resources, or generate as much solid waste and greenhouse gas emissions as you do today? Would you seek to to accumulate as much personal wealth or power?

We need to shift the focus of ME to WE: to treat others as you would want to be treated—to stop focussing on personal wants and needs and choose to see things through the eyes of others.

22. Letter to the Editor—getting my cranky on o_O

Week 4 and we have to submit a Letter to the Editor.

At 250 words it’s not a big task but it has to be engaging, pithy and talk about a sustainability issue.

No surprises that I wrote two. Both reproduced below, but the one I ended up submitting was the one on food—just because the consensus in our workshop was that it was probably more interesting.

Dear Mainstream Media

How do you disappoint me? Let me count the ways!

You disappoint in the way you ignore the environment and yet promote the economy. Were you out of the room when we all worked out that without a suitable, equitable environment you can’t have a society, and without a society there is no need for an economy?

I did a review of online news sites, both newspaper- and TV-based—mostly Australian, but some international—and out of twenty, only three of you have a dedicated tab for the environment on your main page! So, brick bats for most of you, including The Age, The Australian and the Daily Telegraph[1] PLUS Aunty ABC (now that’s disappointing), SBS and all the other Australian TV-channel websites. Bouquets for Deutsche Welle, The Conversation and The Guardian.

I am interested in which came first: do you choose to present what you think readers want; or does your content drive public interest? Whatever the case, you are kidding yourself if you think that what is happening with the DOW is more important than rising CO2 emissions.

It’s clear from the IPCC, NASA and other scientific bodies that environmental issues including climate change, species loss and over consumption (to name but a few) should be part of our daily dialog. In my opinion you have a duty of care to all of your readers to inform and promote debate.

It’s time for you to step up and create a space for the environment on your main sites and not bury such vital content on some sub-directory, out of sight and out of mind.

[1] According to these are the three most accessed Australian online newspapers.

Full-frontal on food

Here are a few ‘fun facts’ first up.

According to Foodwise, Australians discard up to 20% of the food they purchase —that’s one in every five bags of groceries—gone…in the bin!

An estimated 20–40% of all fruit and vegetables are rejected before they reach the shops because they are ‘not pretty enough’ aka they did not reach consumer or supermarket cosmetic standards.

The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that one-third of the global food supply doesn’t even get to people.

Sadly, the environmental implications of such waste are bigger than you think.

Just to produce this food requires great volumes of water, energy and other inputs. Try to imagine in your mind’s eye the progression from paddock to plate, and account for the fertilisers, the pesticides, the storage, the packaging and the transportation. All. Wasted.

And when the discarded food is dumped—mostly as landfill—it decomposes anaerobically to produce methane, one of the most potent of all greenhouse gasses. In the USA, the EPA estimates that nearly a quarter of all methane produced is from uneaten food.

Since the industrialisation of food we seem to have been overtaken by an overwhelming attitude of super-sized profligacy.

Right now we need to strip things back—become more ‘food aware’ and show some respect for what sustains us. Here are seven simple ways we can all reduce our food waste: buy local produce; choose fresh over processed; cook less food; use up any leftovers; shop for only what you need; understand the use-by/best before labelling system and resist the temptation of take-away.

21. Communicating sustainability…in the beginning

OK Dear Reader, I am back to the blog! And yes, I know it has been a while, but this semester I hope to keep on top of things a bit better on a weekly basis, as a journal of stuff that is my passion: sustainability.

Since my last post I have had three amazing experiences. The first was to do a small presentation to the Innovation and Sustainability Centre at USC on our backyard veggie garden and aquaponics system. It was a bit nerve-racking but the PowerPoint held together and people asked questions at the end, so all good. As part of the presentation I developed a systems diagram of the inputs, outputs, throughputs and loops that happen in the backyard of our small suburban block. It looks messy (you should see the actual garden!) but it shows how we blend and interface, where we can, all component parts.

Backyard sys diagram_4

The second amazing thing was that I was asked to help critique the first semester course I had just completed: SUS101. What a privilege! The course was such an eye opener  in so many ways and has encouraged me to pursue some of my bigger (sustainability) passions, which include food and consumption. But being asked to feed back into that course (which had just been reworked and rewritten) allowed me an opportunity to ‘play it forward’: to contribute so that, I hope, the next cohort gets even more out of the course than I did.

The third, but certainly not the least, was the opportunity to attend a lecture by Tim Flannery at USC. Tim is an amazing man who is so knowledgable and so generous with his time. His half hour lecture was followed by a one-hour Q&A! For a bit more on Tim Flannery check out these links [ and]

So onto this semester and what it holds!

SUS202 is Communicating Sustainability. It’s a big area and I am hoping to find some answers. Why are we still having the global warming ‘debate’? Why, when Rachel Carson wrote and published Silent Spring in 1962 are we still poisoning our planet (in more ways than I can even conceive) 50 years down the track? Does the allure of money make us mute to speaking for our environment: that which will sustain us? Is there a silver bullet, a way that what should be heard, will be heard above the almighty din of disinformation?

In this first week we have been set reading tasks and also invited to watch a TEDTalk: Mark Pagel, a biologist whose topic is ‘How language transformed humanity’ [20 minutes: see:]. It is indeed interesting stuff, but I get it, that we have language and have been able to cooperate and communicate and refine ideas is peculiar to our species. That language divides and unites us at the same time is confounding. That language can be used to subvert and empower us is equally perplexing. Would one language solve everything? I go with no, but will let you be the judge.

Another TEDTalk I found (stumbled upon) is by Keith Chen, a Behavioural Economist from Yale. His talk is well worth the watch, but I ask you to substitute the idea of ‘saving money’ with ‘saving the environment’…now there’s an interesting area for study: that the language you speak has an impact on your ability to project: to live sustainably now to have a better future [12 minutes: see:]


17. More on food…and waste…and…

For my final assignment (due in eight weeks LOL!) I am supposed to revisit my first assignment, which was a poster on Coal Seam Gas (and fracking). The final assignment is to take this information, and further research, and take it to a new level, and a new context and write a magazine style article, but I have decided to look at food and food waste instead—with permission of course!

I have been busy revisiting materials I had seen many moons ago, and indeed being drawn to look into new areas. It is a fascinating process. 😀

On food

I highly recommend hunting down and watching Food Inc by Robert Kenner. Here is a trailer for the film: see

While reviewing this I also happened upon an interesting interview with Robert Kenner on a channel called Bring Your Own Documentary. It’s an interesting format and a nice discussion about elements from Kenner’s documentary. See:

This led me to FixFood (I think also linked to Robert Kenner), a website that talks about many issues. Go have a look at:

I then got sidetracked (as I had read a fellow blogger’s comments about GM foods and Monsanto) and so spent a good hour watching a documentary called Percy Schmesiser—David versus Monsanto. Compelling viewing, see:

On food waste

An interesting development on recovering home food scraps (the average person throws out the equivalent of 1 in every 5 bags of food they take home from the supermarket) has been tackled by the Leichhardt Council in Sydney, Australia. It’s a good interview, hosted by Natasha Mitchell on Radio National:

Dana Frasz has following her life’s passion to address the food waste issue in the USA. Here she talks to an audience as organised by Pachamama—it is well worth the listen. Honoring the Sacredness of Food by Reducing Food Waste by Dana Frasz:

Which bought me full circle to where I started at the beginning of the week, which was to watch a few online vids about William McDonough (under the banner of resilience, adaptive capacity and efficiency—for my course). McDonough is a very interesting character. To many he is a visionary, and he is … but from what I have read and watched, I would add that he is sadly misdirected, and very driven by the dollar—which is a pity. Anyways, go have a look at and for a taste of the McDonough vision—a vision of ‘cradle to cradle’ design and turning waste into food.

What have I been doing in my spare time, you may ask?

I am also hot on the heels of all things plastic. I have found an amazing source and downloaded some technical data/information about packaging from the Sustainable Packaging Coalition. Worth a visit:

I had better get off the content bandwagon and spend more time on what I am supposed to be focussed on—in the coming weeks—social justice and the politics of neo-liberal economic theory! Woo-hoo! Bring it on! 😀


16. Resources and all that stuff â€Ś

Right at the very start of this journey of sustainability learning and understanding I went looking for information and came across this amazing graphic … (original source is


Do I need to mention, at this point, that the endless pack of TimTams in that iconic ad is a fiction?

If we use up all of the above resources, yes, some of them can be recovered and recycled, but in doing so there will be losses in both the original element and because of the amount of energy needed in the recovery process. We must question the need for the latest gadget/purchase, and start demanding longevity in the things we buy. With technology and hope, we may be able to recover the materials already used, with minimal residual pollution.

The reading I had to do for class this week was entitled Economics in a full world, by Herman E. Daly. It was published in Scientific America in 2005. It has helped me to start on my journey of understanding the economics side of things—definitely a space in which I am not particularly comfortable. The abstract of the paper simply states:

“The global economy is now so large that society can no longer safely pretend it operates within a limitless ecosystem. Developing an economy that can be sustained within the finite biosphere requires new ways of thinking.”

But probably my favourite snippet from the reading is:

“Because establishing and maintaining a sustainable economy entails an enormous change of mind and heart by economists, politicians and voters, one might well be tempted to declare that such a project would be impossible. But the alternative to a sustainable economy, an ever growing economy, is biophysically impossible. In choosing between tackling a political impossibility and a biophysical impossibility, I would judge the latter to be the more impossible and take my chances with the former.