The following is a guest post by Mariette Mikhael from the The Sustainable Living Project
Last year I had the pleasure of working with a group of 12 Middle Eastern women at the Villawood Community Kitchen on a project called Love Food Hate Waste. Run as part of the Sustainable Living Project, this project aimed to highlight the food waste, its impact on our environment and what we can do to reduce waste. It also assisted participants in adopting sustainable practices when it comes to food choices.
This project provided the space and opportunity for these women to take steps to live sustainably. Throughout it, I watched the women grow through sharing and learning new skills and knowledge.
One lesson the women readily took on board was to eliminate food wastage by planning their household’s weekly meals. By taking control of what came into the kitchen, they realised they could reduce what was thrown out as food waste. This learning, among many others, empowered them to play a part in living sustainably, as well as having a positive impact on the big picture.
Feedback from the participants shows the project had even more of an impact:
- “Before coming to Australia, food waste was just food to throw away. At the workshops I learnt that food waste goes to landfill and releases leachate when it goes in the ground, affecting the environment and me and my family too.” Anim Jaffar
- “I do not throw food away, I cook the amount I need. I even tell my neighbours about it. Why do we buy so much?” Sophia Agia
- “We learnt a lot, for example how to make a shopping list and stick to it. And now I use old tomatoes for sauce instead of throwing them away.” Sana Dana
The group also got creative when it came leftover food, coming up with new recipes to deal with this issue and sharing their ideas and findings. Discovering their own solutions to the problem of waste lifted their self-esteem and opened the door to new ways of looking at environmental issues.
The project reinforced to me the value of educating women about sustainability and the far-reaching impact this can have; and also that women, when given the opportunity to learn and develop, excel. There is no limit to what we can achieve.
About the author
Mariette Mikhael is a bilingual Arabic/English environmental educator with the Sustainable Living Project – a partnership between the Office of Environment and Heritage and the Ethnic Communities Council of NSW. Mariette’s respect for the environment started in Lebanon where they didn’t toss things away; but reused and recycled as an everyday practice.