How to Talk to Others About Food Waste… Without Being “That Guy”

How to Talk to Others About Food Waste… Without Being “That Guy”

We all know “that guy” (or girl). The one that is so passionate about a particular cause that they talk about it endlessly, often with a certain tone that makes you think their true passion is either the sound of their own voice or just “being right”.

Here’s the thing: Food waste is a problem that truly does impact all of us because it impacts the planet we all live on. Yet, many people don’t know much about it or give it much thought. That’s why talking to others and educating them about the full impact of food waste is so important. 

Making changes in your own habits is great. But that is just a drop in a very large bucket. The more people we can get on board, making small changes in their daily habits, the more drops we have. Eventually, we’ve got a faucet running at full force! Which would be kinda wasteful… ok, we’ve taken that metaphor as far as it can go. But you get it, right?

The more heroes, the bigger the impact!

So… how do you go about educating others, raising awareness and getting them to make changes, without being “that guy”?

Here are a few tips...

At work

Bring leftovers for lunch.

Be the person to start that trend.

Talk to management about putting up posters or notices around the workplace. 

Here are some ideas:

  • The garbage can - “Sure you want to toss that? When we waste food, we waste all the resources that went into it!”
  • The office fridge - “Heroes eat their leftovers. Are you being a hero today?”
  • The coffee machine - “Are you sure you need to brew a full pot? Producing the beans for just one cup of coffee uses 140L of water. Brew smart!”

Consider a #WasteNotWednesday campaign

Each Wednesday (or one Wednesday per month), coworkers bring edible food items from home that they do not want, or that need to be used up soon, for other coworkers to take home with them.

Create a donation box

Have a year-round donation box for coworkers to donate non-perishable food items they do not want.

Encourage sharing food with others

Keep an “eat me” basket in the fridge for coworkers to share any food items that need to be eaten soon such as yogurt, cut fruit, baked goods, cheese or even yummy leftovers from home (who knows, maybe Carl from Accounting makes the world’s best lasagna, but always makes too much!)

With friends

Take your leftovers home from restaurants or ask for half portions. 

Humans are weird. Wonderful, but weird. Many people avoid asking for things until someone else asks first. Be the first, others will (hopefully) follow.

Be alert to ways you can bring up food waste organically. 

For example:

  • Good: Everyone’s talking about that amazing food documentary on Netflix. Great opportunity to bring up that amazing documentary about food waste.
  • Not good: Everyone’s speculating about the next season of Stranger Things. Do not bring up food waste. Now is not the time.
  • Good: Karen’s talking about making her own baby food. You have tips on how to store it properly and what to do with the fruit and veggie trimmings. Great!
  • Not good: Karen’s talking about Karen Jr’s first words and how advanced her little nugget is. Do not interrupt with food waste tips. Let Karen gush.+

Share tips, ideas and articles on Facebook, Twitter or other social network accounts, but don’t clutter everyone’s feed. Keep it to no more than once a day.

At home

Remember that your family also does not want to listen to “that guy”. Instead of nagging your family, try practical ways to help change their habits:

  • Make FIFO (first in, first out) your family’s kitchen motto.
  • Keep a basket in the fridge for any foods that need to be eaten soon.
  • Have a weekly leftovers night.
  • Start a food waste log and post it somewhere your family will see it.
  • Start a smoothie habit and use up fruit, yoghurt and other smoothie-friendly ingredients making everyone a morning smoothie.

Remember, often the best way to educate others is to lead by example. Don’t be afraid to stand out, especially if you’re standing out for something heroic like saving the planet. But do be conscious of not becoming “that guy”, no matter how passionate you are about making the world a better place for everyone.

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