Woodcraft Folk Edinburgh September 2019 Meal Sharing Evening

by Lucia Lavric from Woodcraft Folk Edinburgh

Woodcraft Folk love sharing meals and we love the environment. We were very lucky to receive a grant from the Scottish Communities Climate Action Network and participate in the European Day of Sustainable Communities. We’d organise a meal! Fun and light on the planet – through the supply chain, in terms of food packaging and excess food thrown. Would it be surprisingly easy or much harder than we thought?

Packaging-free food reduces our waste substantially

We got our dirt-covered carrots from the Farmer’s Market, cabbages from the local fruit and veg store, zero packaging cous-cous and lentils from a cooperative retailer and bread from the bakery next door.
Hardly any packaging in sight, other than the mesh for the carrots and the flour bag in which the bakery packed our bread. However, even though we chose organic and local where we could, by the time we sourced our food, there will have undoubtedly been some fertiliser, fuel and produce waste in the supply chain.
We sold tickets on Eventbrite and adjusted food purchases to match numbers so that we neither went hungry nor threw excess food.
There was some meal coordination and blackberry foraging before the meal and people took home bread and cake to eat the next morning, and dahl to freeze.
The plan was to send reminders to everyone to bring their own cutlery and plates, but then, when we visited the hall we rented for the event, it became clear that the venue had enough for everyone.
We have generated next to zero packaging and zero food waste at the event. Ok, I forgot a spare batch of dahl in the rented kitchen fridge which had to be thrown eventually, but…IT CAN BE DONE!

Our take home notes?

1.Buying low packaging food was easier and cheaper than one might think it would. There are several great low waste food suppliers close to the venue we chose, the Eco Larder, the Refillery, the New Leaf Coop, Real Foods and Dig In.

2.It took planning and a number of trolley trips to the shops, not practical in a time constrained situation and certainly much more work than supermarket deliveries would have been. Next time, we might look into a delivery by East Coast Organics, if we can coordinate days.
The Eco Larder do deliveries on a bike, but that is not for ad-hoc events because getting a cargo bike is tricky – something to work on at the individual choice / public policy interface.

3. It took some coordination, central planning and great participant flexibility to reduce meal duplicates or going short.

4.Our access to a huge range of crockery at the Barclay Viewforth Church hall was a pleasant surprise. Perhaps something we should ask about more often when hiring a hall, for a child’s birthday party for example, and something that hall owners can bear in mind as well.
[Hurray to the speediest, gender balanced team of dish washers
and driers on the planet!]

Without access to such a great supply of plates and cups at the venue, reminders on the day to bring one’s own and some spares are likely to be useful.

We really did generate next to no waste at the event, had enough food and a great time!