6 food waste take-aways A year ago we came across the statistic that over 18,000 tonnes of pumpkin go to landfill in the UK every year. Absurd we thought; we like Halloween as much as the next person, but that’s a lot of perfectly good food going straight in the bin. The idea grew into the Oxford Pumpkin Festival, a week of events which culminated in a Disco Soup event feeding almost 1,000 Saturday afternoon shoppers with delicious soup made from surplus food, which led to extensive media and social media coverage for the #PumpkinRescue. Continuing with the seasonal theme, we then ran #FestiveFreeze in collaboration with Marks & Spencer which provided tips and recipes for turning Christmas leftovers into meals which could be frozen and eaten in the New Year; and #FlippinFoodWaste, which took the humble pancake and used it as a way to get people thinking about how they can get creative with leftovers. This summer we have the #SaladDays campaign, alongside Marks & Spencer and Love Food Hate Waste, which will look at how to make the most of your summer foods. We’ve learned so much about the tricky issue of food waste over the past year - here are 6 stand out lessons. 1) My gourd, people love pumpkins! When we started out we didn’t realise quite how much people love the orange spooky staple. We seem to be nation in love with the pumpkin, which begs the question – why don’t we eat more of it? But the real lesson here is the need to find a ‘hook’ that will interest people. Nobody wants to be lectured about the food they throw away, so we sought a more gentle approach. 2) Good food and a sense of humour go a long way Two of the main principles we’ve tried to stick to are a) make sure the food is good and b) let’s not take ourselves too seriously. A bowl of beige food surplus slop is unlikely to get anyone inspired to waste less food, however good the intentions behind it might be. We’ve collected recipes from some of Britain’s best chefs to excite people about the possibilities of cooking with pumpkins, pancakes and Christmas leftovers. We celebrate good food, because positive messages are much more likely to stick than pious hectoring. 3) It’s liberating to give something away and watch it grow We want to make reducing food waste an integral part of Halloween; as a small team we can only do this by giving away our idea. So off the back of the Oxford Pumpkin Festival we put together a free guide to running a Pumpkin Festival. There are now over 15 festivals planned in the UK, and 2 in the USA. We’re also looking forward to working closely with North London Waste Authority to run a flagship Halloween food waste event in London. 4) Food waste is complex The more we delve into the issue the more we understand its complexity and see the huge amount of food wasted in the supply chains. We support organisations and initiatives tackling this, but we have to remain clear about the focus of our Food hub, which is helping consumers to reduce food waste and in doing so save money. 5) Let’s face it - most people don’t think about food waste The reality is that most people don’t think about food waste. We think about shopping, cooking, what to have for dinner, getting the kids to clear their plate – all of which can lead to food being wasted. So that’s how we frame the conversation. There’s no one-size-fits-all message. Different groups will waste food for very different reasons, for example young professionals with busy social lives compared to families with young children. 6) Collaboration is the key to making a real impact We’ve discovered with our other Hubs the importance of getting a common consensus from a range of stakeholders on what needs to change. Next we plan to do this with our Food Hub, by creating a manifesto for cutting domestic food waste, co-designed by organisations and individuals from across the industry. This will then be the foundation for everything we do in this space. We’re very proud of our food waste campaigns over the last year, but we’re aware that we need go more in-depth with the issue to bring about real change. Our ambition is to focus on one community over a period of time, conducting a social experiment that will trial different approaches to cutting food waste with different audiences. From this we’ll create replicable model which can be shared with communities across the UK to help reduce food waste in the UK.