By Clare Rowley
The community campaign team trial their determination by sourcing all of their food from local retailers for the whole of the Olympic season.
The Recycle for your Community campaign office in East London Recycle for your Community is in the midst of Olympic fever. We’re excited about the events in our local boroughs, so we decided to do something to mark the occasion. As we aren’t Olympic athletes, we chose to set ourselves a slightly less physically-demanding challenge, involving something we can do and are passionate about: wasting less and living more.
Inspired by an intrepid member of sustainability charity The Otesha Project embarking on a month-long plastic fast plastic fast, our team of four at Recycle for your Community thought about some of the issues our residents in East London face: high levels of food and non-recyclable packaging being thrown away at home, alongside a wider loss of community cohesion.
An Olympian Challenge
We wanted to take on a challenge of Olympic proportions: no supermarkets or chain-stores for the duration of the games, just local independent stores and markets.
Why? If all goes to plan, we’re hoping to show that by changing a few habits, us consumers have choices in what food and drink we buy and can ‘vote with their feet’ to support local economies and communities.
Big chains do arguably have their place in a community, providing jobs and opportunities, but this shouldn’t be at the expense of everything else – i.e. ‘as well as’ not ‘instead of’. This challenge is about shopping locally for healthy and fresh produce and doing our bit to support and maintain our communities.
How do supermarkets and chain-stores affect us?
- The rise in supermarkets and chain stores have directly correlated with a decline of local, independent shops 1 – previously important community hubs
- You’re more likely to do a big shop and buy in bulk from a supermarket – ok for some generic things, but how much fruit and veg, meat and bakery products do you throw away, that were such a ‘great deal’ at the time? A lot, according to the Love Food Hate Waste campaign 2
- Supermarkets and chains buy in bulk from far and wide, meaning less fresh, local and seasonal produce and more packaging on everything (for transporting food long distances)
A big shift
Like the majority of people, we admit that we rely on supermarkets for the weekly shop or just a quick sandwich for lunch, so it’s going to be a complete change of habit for us at Recycle for your Community HQ.
Will it be harder to make more frequent local trips than one big shop in our out-of-town superstores? Can four people working full-time and living in different parts of East and Central London successfully survive without popping to their nearest superstore? Will we get our gold medals?
We’re excited to see what’s out there…
Watch this space and follow us on Twitter @RecycleFYC to see how we get on!
Clare Rowley, Sarah Mills, Julia Roebuck and Siddiq Khan
1 Guy C M, (1996), “Corporate strategies in food retailing and their local impacts: a case study of Cardiff” Environment and Planning A 28(9) 1575 – 1602 http://www.envplan.com/abstract.cgi?id=a281575
Cliff Guy, Graham Clarke, Heather Eyre, (2004) “Food retail change and the growth of food deserts: a case study of Cardiff”, International Journal of Retail & Distribution Management, Vol. 32 Iss: 2, pp.72 – 88 http://www.emeraldinsight.com/journals.htm?articleid=857455&show=abstract
2 Love Food Hate Waste campaign http://england.lovefoodhatewaste.com/content/facts-about-food-waste-0