Making Waste a Resource


Cold Spring, NY

The level of food waste in our world is estimated by the Rome-based Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) to be 1.3 billion tons of food wasted every year.

If epigenetics has any validity we (as a species) can’t have totally forgotten the hundreds of thousands of years we lived in a natural relationship with the earth. In our current acceptance of progress and competition our estrangement from the earth is reflected in our waste. One way that we could successfully stop the massive waste of food worldwide is to support and adopt the principles and practice of Permaculture.

Permaculture first began as an agricultural-based practice but it is now a living philosophy that can be applied to address solutions on the community and national level. Permaculture is aligned with the principles of the Equal Life Foundation in that the philosophy recognizes the fact that no single problem or solution stands on its own. The Permaculture approach, like the Equal Life Foundation promotes the use of existing resources and infrastructure to correct our relationship to each other and the natural world.

Permaculture works with nature, not against it. It uses observation and investigation rather than thoughtless labor. Each element should perform many functions, rather than one as everything is connected to everything else.

All solutions come from us – where else could they come from?  Permaculture enhances the self-confidence and ownership we need to create solutions and alternatives. It challenges the energy-intensive and pollution-producing linear distribution networks that produce food waste. Waste, if not able to be eaten, can be used to compost,  making “waste”  a resource.

Some other solutions to the problem of food waste include:

International Food Distribution Network:

FoodCloud : a company that uses technology to link retailers holding excess food with charities.

Gleaning Network UK coordinates teams of volunteers with willing farmers across the UK to direct surplus produce to charities that redistribute it to people that need it most.

Food Waste Collective in Brighton, UK

Other Notes:

“Permaculture was created in the 1970’s by Bill Mollison, an Australian ecologist and University of Tasmania professor. He had spent many years out in nature as a wildlife biologist observing how natural systems work and became very distressed at the destruction that he saw going on around him. He decided that instead of being angry about what was happening and reacting against the destruction he wanted to work on creating a positive solution And he thought the solution would be living based on the patterns he had observed in nature.” [1]

More links on Permaculture:

Permaculture Research Institute

The Links among plants:

“The more we learn about these underground networks [of plants], the more our ideas about plants have to change. They aren’t just sitting there quietly growing. By linking to the fungal network they can help out their neighbours by sharing nutrients and information – or sabotage unwelcome plants by spreading toxic chemicals through the network. This “wood wide web”, it turns out, even has its own version of cybercrime.

We can each begin by composting nation-wide and in the individual household level.


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