Closing Loops is a project launched by FoodFutures in 2022 to take forward the priorities of Our Food Futures, a community food strategy for North Lancashire. One of the core topics of the project is surplus food and waste reduction. At four world cafe events at the end of last year, the Closing Loops team invited the residents of different parts of North Lancashire to join in a conversation about this and other topics. 

Much of the conversation on how we can reduce food waste revolved around education. Participants at the world cafe event felt that there was a need for more food waste education in all age groups, from school children and students to young people, families and also companies. Starting early, the FoodFutures schools project Where The Wildings Are! works with several schools across the Lancaster District to bring more nature into schools, make school grounds more nature and child friendly and to promote outdoor education. Learning about growing food can be an important part of food waste education – we are less likely to waste what we appreciate more. 

Talking about why food waste is happening, participants disagreed on whether corporations or individuals held the greatest responsibility. Sharing positive examples of how individuals, families and communities can change their habits when shopping, cooking and eating to reduce waste is certainly important; but the responsibility cannot be on individual households alone. Supermarkets, central government and local councils also play an important role. 

For example, campaigns could try to influence supermarkets to change practices that produce waste; laws could be created to oblige supermarkets to redistribute all their edible food waste; “Best Before” dates could be made advisory; and a national food waste strategy could tackle the problem more comprehensively. 

The conversations also turned to how communities could – and already do – respond to food waste. Examples include initiatives that grow food locally, preserve crops in a collective effort or redistribute surplus food for instance through community fridges and food clubs. Composting and gleaning were also brought up, which are two issues that the Closing Loops project focuses on in its work. It offers many ways for local communities to get involved, for instance by setting up community composting schemes, hosting workshops that teach home composting, joining a trip to a farm for a day of gleaning or hosting a gleaning event in local gardens, orchards and community growing projects. 

Title page of world cafe summary report

Download the full report on the outcomes of the world cafe discussions

Do you have ideas for how waste could be avoided in your local area? Or would you like to get involved in a local initiative that fights waste?

Find out more about Closing Loops and get in touch.

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