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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



20. Food, inglorious food

I’ve been away for a while, but it has had a lot to do with study and work and volunteering and all that stuff.

It you were wondering, it’s all going fine 🙂 but trying to find the time, and dare I say it, the enthusiasm to blog as regularly as I used to, had been hard.

And today I cheat! Today, I am just going to paste, holus-bolus, my last assignment here (for my SUS101 subject—I am studying Sustainability at USC) —it’s on food waste and had to be written as a magazine article. I agonised over this as there is SOOOOO much to say about food and how we waste it—I hope I have nailed it, and it is easy-to-read, informative and entertaining.

As an assignment for Uni it has all the requisite citations of materials embedded—so if you want to follow anything up that I quoted, you can. What I must commend to you, however is the book written by Tristram Stuart called Waste: Uncovering the global food scandal. It was published in 2009 and is the go-to book for this topic (see the reference list).

I am also waiting on the documentary Just Eat It (by the Canadian film makers Grant Baldwin and Jen Rustemeyer) to come out, but in the meantime, check out their webpage and the trailer 🙂

I hope the following is food for thought (all puns intended)!

Food, inglorious food

There are numerous ways to describe food—fast, slow and comfort quickly spring to mind. Much of our world can be defined by food—from the distinctive flavours of regional cuisines, to the one-size-fits-all-tastebud offerings of many a fast-food chain.

But why or how could food—that which is essential for sustaining life—be inglorious?

That food is so unevenly distributed around the globe is in itself scandalous—that almost half of the food produced by, and for the Global North is wasted, is shocking, disgraceful, and definitely inglorious.

How did we become so wasteful, what are the impacts and what can be done about it?

Periods of feast and famine have been well documented since biblical times, so having an excess is nothing new, but profligacy of food is definitely a phenomenon rooted in 20th-century Western culture.


In 260 BC the Chinese philosopher and poet, Lao Tsu wrote in the Tao Te Ching: “He who knows he has had enough, is rich” (Naish 2009)—possibly a comment on the attributes of frugal living? Almost 2000 years on, “Wilful waste makes woful [sic] want” was first cited in an American text in 1576 (Titleman 1996), and in 1835, Lydia Maria Child addressed methods of sorting food waste in her book The American Frugal Housewife, recommending to readers that “… nothing should be thrown to the pigs which should have been in the grease-pot … and see that nothing is [in the grease-pot] which might have served to nourish your own family, or a poorer one”. (Strasser 1999, p5–6)

If you examine the childhood of your parents or grandparents you will probably uncover stories about food that are both quaint and bizarre. In the 1950s, in rural and regional Australian towns, it was commonplace for dairy products to be delivered in glass bottles to the doorstep, to shop at a greengrocer (for fruit and vegetables), a butcher shop (with real sawdust on the floor) and a general store, where bulk flours and grains were measured into brown paper bags, and cheese cut from a wheel, weighed and wrapped in grease-proof paper. Children were encouraged to clean their plates at meal times, often prompted to be thankful and eat every morsel, as there were “starving children in Biafra”.

But during this post-war era, food production went into overdrive, with the excesses processed (canned, frozen and dried) and heavily marketed, giving rise to the industrialisation of food (Bittman 2007). During the mid 20th-century, all sorts of faddish foods emerged, including TV dinners and Vesta Ready Meals.


In Australia, supermarket shopping became the norm in the 1970s, where a rich array of all sorts of commodities could be found. Today, these same supermarkets are packed full, with an even larger variety of foods—many imported.

One could debate the reasons behind the creation of such excess, from the psychology of ‘having enough’ (Naish 2009) to the neo-Capitalist drive for greater profits*, but the implications across the sustainability spectrum of producing and allowing a large proportion of this food to go to waste, are significant.

Just producing food for a Global North diet has many negative environmental impacts, including loss of biodiversity (as forests and natural habitats are stripped for cropping and ranching), land degradation, air and water pollution and consumption of precious water resources (Bittman 2007). In many Global South countries, demand for native foods for foreign palates—as food fads come and go—is making staples for locals unaffordable (Blythman 2013).

Food processing, packaging and transportation further add to economic, social and environmental impacts. Even greater impacts come when this food is wasted and ends up as anaerobically decomposing matter in landfill—resulting in the release of methane gas into the atmosphere.


Australian households throw out more than $5 billion worth of food each year, with over 40 per cent of household food wasted (Thompson et al 2010 ). According to OzHarvest, an Australian not-for-profit food rescue service, 3.28 million tonnes of food is driven to landfill in Australia each year, and an estimated 20–40 per cent of fruit and vegetables are rejected before they even reach the shops—mostly because they don’t conform to strict supermarket cosmetic standards (OzHarvest 2014).

Globally it appears that the situation may only get worse, as large sections of the Chinese population move to adopt Global North eating habits. According to Xin et al (2014), current food waste in China comprises 70 per cent of the country’s total garbage, which looms as a major problem, as the country currently lacks a national policy, scientific management or processing methods for sorting and disposal.

But it’s not all bad news, and to coin another proverb “Where there is a will, there is a way”!

Many good things are being done to address food waste at international, national and local levels. UNEP, FAO and Messe Düsseldorf launched the international campaign Think Eat Save—Reduce Your Footprint in 2013, which seeks to galvanize widespread global, regional and national actions against food waste (see Their website is a treasure trove of inspiring stories and practical examples of how to make a difference.

On a national level, in many countries, it has been identified that a lot of good, edible food is unnecessarily sent into landfill from supermarkets, restaurants and corporate functions—food that could be fed to the food insecure. In America, collection and distribution agencies are covered against potential litigation, in many States, under the Good Samaritan Act (Stuart 2009), while in Australia, food rescue organisations such as Food Bank and OzHarvest, are covered under various state legislations (see Intriguingly no similar legislation exists in the UK (Stuart 2009) making food recovery problematic.

Processing and treatment of food waste disposal is gaining strength—from the exemplary large scale bio-digesting operations at NFL matches in the USA (Casey 2013), to worm farms at airports (Lammers 2011) to trials of local government-run home-composting systems by the Leichhardt Council in Sydney’s inner west (Mitchell 2014). In the National Food Waste Data Assessment: Final Report (Masson 2011) indications are that there may be great value in harnessing food waste not only for energy generation, but also for soil enhancement as conventional fuels and fertilisers become more expensive.

Other campaigns include Love Food Hate Waste (, the Glad Company Waste in Focus website ( the recent push by EU countries to examine and revise the confusing food labelling systems that see a lot of food being binned needlessly at the supermarket and at home (Kaye 2014).

But what can be done on a personal scale? Most of us don’t have the time or the space for a worm farm, let alone a flock of chickens or a hungry pig to take care of the peelings and scrapings from our plates! According to the Foodwise site, small changes in individual behaviour can have significant impacts from the home front. These include cooking less food, eating what is cooked (ie using all the leftovers), buying what is needed (check the fridge and shelves before you shop, and never shopping when you are hungry), understanding the nuances of the food date-labelling systems, and resisting the temptation to buy take-away instead of cooking the food you have at home (Do Something 2014). As individuals, as consumers, making informed choices and starting a conversation about over-production and wanton waste is a good place to start!

Food think

Maybe it’s time to revisit our relationship with food. Perhaps the last word should go to Louise Fresco, Professor at the University of Amsterdam and international advisor on sustainability: “Food is about respect … food is something holy—it’s not about nutrients and calories, it’s about sharing, it’s about honesty and identity.” (Fresco 2009)


* In the Journal of Retailing (1950),Victor Lebow, a 20th-century economist and retail analyst, stated:‘Our enormously productive economy demands that we make consumption a way of life, that we convert the buying and use of goods into rituals, that we seek our spiritual satisfaction in consumption.’ (Naish 2009)


Bittman, M. 2007, What’s wrong with what we eat, TED Talk. Viewed 3 June 2014.

Blythman, J. 2013, Can vegans stomach the unpalatable truth about quinoa? The Guardian, 16 January 2013. Viewed 4 June 2014.

Casey, T. 2013, Cleveland Browns roll out new food waste-to-energy system, Triple Pundit: People, Planet, Profit, 18 November 2013. 29 May 2014.

Do Something, Foodwise: Your site for sustainable food Viewed 29 May 2014.

FAO, 2011. Global food losses and food waste—Extent, causes and prevention, Rome.

Fresco, L. 2009, We need to feed the whole world, TED Talk. Viewed 5 June 2014.

Glad 2014, Waste and recycling at home, Viewed 3 June 2014.

Kaye, L. 2014, To combat food waste, EU seeks change of ‘best before’ dates, Triple Pundit: People, Planet, Profit, 19 May 2014. Viewed 29 May 2014.

Lammers, L. 2011, Charlotte to install first airport worm composting system, Triple Pundit: People, Planet, Profit, 29 November 2011. Viewed 29 May 2014.

Mason, L. Boyle, T. Fyfe, J. Smith, T. & Cordell, D. 2011, National Food Waste Data Assessment: Final Report. Prepared for the Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities, by the Institute for Sustainable Futures, University of Technology, Sydney.

Mitchell, N. 2014, Food Waste, Radio National Life Matters, 9 April 2014. Accessed 19 May 2014.

Naish, J. 2009, Optimisation (Chapter 3) in Stibbe, A. (Ed.) The handbook of sustainability literacy: Skills for a changing world, Green Books, Dartington. Accessed 2 June 2014.

New South Wales EPA, 2014, Love Food Hate Waste, Viewed 5 June 2014.

OzHarvest, 2014, Food waste figures, Viewed 5 June 2014.

Strasser, S. 1999, Waste and Want, Metropolitan Books, New York.

Stuart, T. 2009, Waste: Uncovering the global food scandal, Penguin Group, London.

Titleman, G.Y. 1996, Random House Dictionary of popular proverbs and sayings, Random House, New York.

Thompson, K. Dawson, D. Boland, J. Coveney, J. Ward, P. & Sharp, A. 2010, Zeroing in on Food Waste: Measuring, understanding and reducing food waste, ARC Food Waste Project, Australian Research Council (ARC) Linkage Project 2010–2013. Viewed 5 June 2014.

Xin, Z. Kaihao, W. & Anqiet, C. 2014, Waste not, want not, China Daily Mail, 5 June 2014. Viewed 5 June 2014.




c: original graphic based on information from the Do Something Foodwise website



18. Earth—global wind and weather


Earth—such an amazing yet fragile planet. This is a snap from an interactive website that tracks global wind and weather real time. In this screenshot you can see Cyclone Ita bearing down on the tropical north coast of Queensland, Australia (I live near Brisbane…)

This is one of the best websites I have ever seen…and I think it should be shared far and wide!