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Contributor – Rethink2gether

How to reduce food waste while saving money

Insights from Rethink2gether’s co-founders

Rethink2gether is a sustainability consulting company based in Vancouver, focused on food waste prevention using the principles of a circular economy. 

In Canada, 58% of food produced is wasted and the average Canadian household throws away $1,766 worth of edible food every year. In British Columbia, the food service industry loses $782 million worth of food annually. More than profits! There are easy ways to reduce food waste.

Rethink2gether offers support and a certification program to help hotels and restaurants slash costs, save food, and expand their brand image.

How does your company mission support your community?

Rethink2gether’s mission is to help and inspire food businesses, consumers, and decision-makers to see that food is too valuable to waste, supporting them to make wiser choices.

Our services help food lovers have a positive impact on:

  • Our Local Communities: one in nine-person in Vancouver is food insecure. Each pound of avoided food waste increases Canadian food security.
  • Our Local Environment: according to Project Drawdown, reducing food waste is the #1 solution to fight climate change. Globally, if food waste were a country, it would be the 3rd biggest carbon emitter, after the US and China. 
  • Our Local Economies: in BC, it is estimated that one in four restaurants will not survive the COVID-19 crisis. Food waste has such a big impact on the bottom line of businesses. Thus, we decided to share some tips & resources through an online webinar for free. We have also just become a member of the BC Hotel Association. 
  • Our Local Governments: the City of Vancouver aims at becoming Zero Waste in 2040 and a leading city in food waste prevention. We are involved in the Waste Working Group of the Vancouver Food Policy Council, to share our expertise. We would love to see a target of 50% food waste reduction, aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals from the United Nations. This commitment has already been made by the City of Toronto. We can do it here.

Rethink2gether also engages with local communities to provide solutions for consumers. Over the last months:

  • We discussed sustainable food systems, namely at NADA during an event organized by CEP Vancouver (a group of sustainability professionals).
  • We organized a Zero Food Waste Event with a film screening (Just Eat It) followed by a panel discussion and some tasty food with rescued ingredients.
  • We organized workshops and created interactive games to educate around Zero Waste & Zero Food Waste at home, namely at the Festival du Bois in Coquitlam.

When we think about food waste, we don’t directly associate it with social innovation. However, we can create big and impactful social innovation projects around reducing food waste. We are convinced that reducing food loss and waste can generate a triple win: for the economy, for food security, and for the environment.

Does practicing gratitude have an impact on your business?

Rethink2gether is thankful to live and work on the traditional, ancestral and unceded territory of the Coast Salish peoples–Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), Stó:lō and Səl̓ílwətaʔ/Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh) and xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam) Nations.

We are also thankful for our partners, our clients, and our community following us on social media. Without their input, we wouldn’t be able to create a world where avoidable food waste no longer exists.

When you feel gratitude, you’re pleased by what someone did for you and also pleased by the results. We see it as a positive way to develop synergies.

What are some breakthroughs you’ve had with developing your passions into a business and were there any challenges?

We have already helped different organizations realize the benefits to WOW (Work On Waste). For example, we have developed some workshop materials for the Canadian certification LEAF (Leaders in Environmentally Accountable Foodservice). They were extremely happy with the outcomes. Their Board President said, “I highly recommend working with Rethink2gether if you’re looking for ways to reduce food waste or wondering where your facility stands on the food waste spectrum.”

In terms of challenges, we would say that we still need to expand our network, as we have been in Vancouver for only 2 years. We are actively working on it.

Before the pandemic, what did a normal business day entail?

Just before the pandemic, we have worked for the Festival du Bois in Coquitlam to make an environmental assessment of the festival, quantify food waste and engage with guests during Zero Waste & Zero Food Waste workshops. 

Rethink2gether has also conducted a Food Waste Survey in Vancouver. We were meeting foodservice business leaders and event planners.

Did the pandemic change how you do business? If yes, how and do you think you’ll return to how things were done previously?

Yes! This pandemic made us pause and think. We learned a lot and we are coming stronger than ever.

We have decided to become accredited for a new food waste certification: The PLEDGE on Food Waste. This is the equivalent of the Michelin stars for Food Waste. 

We have also decided to take into consideration the feedback we received from Vancouverites: “are you providing any solutions for consumers?” We are currently working on it and will provide soon free tools on our website. If you are interested in testing & providing feedback, we would love to hear from you. We believe in co-creation. Don’t hesitate to reach out to us by email: info@Rethink2gether.com.

Let’s rethink food waste together!

Want to know more about Rethink2gether? You can find them online or follow them on social media.

© 2021 Merrymen.

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