U.K. Based W.R.A.P helps students save money and the environment

The Waste and Resource Action Program came to Andre Schenker Hall to talk about the statistics of food waste in Britain and in the United States to teach students how to make less waste. (Mingze Geng/The Daily Campus)

The Waste and Resource Action Program or ‘W.R.A.P.’ came to the Andre Schenker Lecture Hall in the Monteith building on Tuesday. Their stated mission is to help build a world in which all resources are used sustainably. But this evening, two of the United Kingdom based company’s advocates; Claire Kneller and David Rogers were here to discuss a matter that is relatable to every one, and a problem that seriously needs addressing in the United States: food waste.

The presentation was designed to help assess and inform the audience of students, food service officials and professors about food waste and what we can do as individuals to help solve this complicated issue.

Figures were displayed to the audience about annual American food waste that were portrayed in simpler terms, to shock and reveal an unfortunate truth about the way food waste is managed in the U.S. The United States wastes nearly 40 percent of the food that is produced domestically. That’s 20 pounds of food a person per month. The presenters also tied in Thanksgiving-related examples of how much America wastes. The ladder figures was equated to buying two whole turkeys every month and then throwing them away.

The team also included examples of statistics on food waste found in the U.K., despite the fact that the U.K. is one of the world leaders in food waste advocacy, both around the world and in their domestic policy.

But spoiled food is just the surface of food waste. The fact of the matter is that it is much deeper than just the inefficiencies of food going bad. The amount of energy and carbon footprint of different foods can vary greatly. These statistics can also help us become more sustainable with the choices we make in the grocery store.

“We really have to take a two pronged approach. We can’t focus only on consumer or producer behavior alone, it has to be a conversation between the two to ultimately arrive at a win-win situation. Consumers might feel a real loyalty to a brand, but companies can really strengthen the relationship by trying to make both parties better off as opposed to just trying to increase sales in any way they can,” Kneller said.

The W.R.A.P. advocates focused primarily on the five biggest issues with consumer food waste; buying, storing, dates, portioning, and leftovers. They dissected each consumer problem and gave the audience several easy strategies that will help them save money and food. Tips like always shopping with a list before you go to the store or alternatively taking a picture of your pantry or fridge so you know what you have before you go were helpful. Other useful strategies included knowing how to store food products properly and how to understand the ambiguous ‘sell by’ and ‘use by’ dates on U.S. food products.

Students were impressed with the presentation.

“They focused a lot on the ideas that other food waste lecture series presenters did not. They discussed much more about their investigative approaches to looking at data and how to reach a solution while keeping the big picture in mind,” Charles Frazine, a third-semester agricultural resource economics major, said.

Love Food Hate Waste was designed to get people involved and this was certainly reflected in their presentation. They had pop quizzes about food, and awarded portioning cooking tools, t-shirts, and tote bags to those who participated.

“It was great to see a professional organization so readily shoot down a trendy concept like Blue Apron, and discus the gritty details of the balance of packaging and sustainability. It is something not many people think about,” Carina Immer, a seventh-semester agricultural resource economics major, said.

More information about W.R.A.P. can be found at their website: http://www.wrap.org.uk/food-waste-reduction


Dan Wood is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at daniel.wood@uconn.edu.