Food Is Not Trash: Interview with World Wildlife Fund’s Pete Pearson

Updated: Jun 29, 2021

AS (00:09): Hey, everyone. Welcome to Get Real, a podcast to empower you with sustainability know-how so you can improve your quality of life while doing your part to protect the planet. I'm your host, Alissa Stevens, an ecopreneur, Star Wars nerd, and relentlessly positive champion for transformation. Join me as I delve into global sustainability issues, break them down, and most importantly provide you with actions so you can be an eco-leader in your everyday life. Before jumping into this episode, I wanted to share some exciting news. Get Real is happy to announce our newest podcast partner CZW companies for zero waste. CZW helps businesses, investors and governments transform operations and manage risk while driving growth, enabling a well-ordered transition to a low carbon, circular economy. We chose to partner because we share the same core values of driving sustainable development through business with shared dialogue, accessibility, and empowerment.

AS (01:09): And we also realized that business leaders are first and foremost consumers just like you. So we'll be talking with global brands, many of which are B2B to bridge that gap between brands and consumers. Let's kick it off with our first episode in this episode. CZW and I are happy to welcome Pete Pearson from the World Wildlife Fund. We're going to talk about the global and national state of the food system, including food scarcity and waste incentives for businesses and consumers to combat food waste, and how we can all optimize our food resources for a healthier planet. First a bit about our guest. Pete Pearson is the senior director of food loss and waste for the World Wildlife Fund. He works on food waste prevention and food recovery, helping businesses understand the intersection of agriculture and wildlife conservation for almost a decade. He's worked with various businesses and nonprofits on regenerative, agriculture, sustainability, and corporate social responsibility, and he's led local and national sustainability programs within the retail grocery sector across 2000 grocery stores in 37 States.

AS (02:18): Hi Pete. Hi there. How's it going? Good to be here. Glad to have you. Yeah. Okay. So I've been looking forward to this episode all week and for a couple of reasons, one, I love food who doesn't love food, but also I, food is a topic of sustainability that I'm extremely passionate about because it's something that every single human being deals with every single day. Food, how we consume it, how much of it there is what we like, what we grew up with. So there is as much a human element to food as there is an emotional and cultural elements of food. So needless to say, super happy to have you. Yeah, thanks for having me. Good. All right. So I know that there is a particular light bulb moment for you around food waste and sustainability. And before we get into the global perspective, looking at where the global community is right now with food, I want to hear about that light bulb moment. So tell us!

PP (03:20): Yeah. Uh, the light bulb moment for me, you know, I started out of college working as an IT professional. You know, I was, I was interested in getting a job that paid well at a college and it wasn't until I spent about 10 years in IT. And I worked for a company Albertsons, uh, a grocery retailer, one of the largest grocery retailers in the country. And I remember the moment when I said, you know, this is not the ladder I want to climb necessarily. And so I made the decision to go back to school, uh, and got an MBA, but the MBA was focused on sustainability and it was a green MBA, so to speak. So serendipitously, when I graduated two years later from that program, Albertsons created their first director of sustainability position, and I got that job. And so it sent me on this whole new trajectory, not only to focus on sustainability professionally, but I was working for a grocery retailer, right. A company that's whole purpose was to deliver food to people. And so I, I pretty much became obsessed or highly interested in how the food system worked and how we could make it better.

AS (04:28): Awesome. And I know now that you have children as well, so that is a whole other vested interest in this, right?

PP (04:36): Completely. I mean, my kids are 10 and 14 and I think any parent knows that, that once you have kids, it's incredibly difficult to figure out what they're going to eat every day. I mean, I think most would say that if, if kids had their choice, it'd be sugar and pasta nonstop. Right? And so part of our jobs as parents is to try to teach them the best way to be eating not only for health, but then you mix in this whole idea of waste and how the planet has to stay healthy. It's, it's a very complex and often confusing realm to be living in.

AS (05:12): Absolutely. We can impact more of that, um, later on. And I want to just set the scene for some listeners because there's a lot to this right. Food waste on a global level and a national level. So start us off with the global perspective, what is going on globally in the food community right now and where are we headed?

PP (05:34): Well, again, working for the World Wildlife Fund, most people would not even think that a group like ours focuses a lot on food and agriculture. And so the reason why we do, we are, we are an organization globally from about 80 country offices, that our mission is to save nature and biodiversity all across the planet. When you look at the number one driver of biodiversity loss, it is the expansion of food and agriculture, and most people don't know that that's not the light bulb that most people have as to why we lose nature. Yeah. But when you think about the reasons why, you know, nature needs to have a home, it needs to have space. And right now we are just continuing to either cut rain forest or convert grasslands. And every time we do that, we reverse biodiversity, right? We are taking away habitat and ecosystems that are critical to maintain those last populations of either lions or elephants or, you know, tigers. And so that is the number one driver, and it's something at World Wildlife Fund. We take very, very seriously.

AS (06:45): Has this pillar of, of food scarcity always been a part of Wildlife Fund, or was that something that was that a light bulb moment for the organization as well?

PP (06:54): I think it was a light bulb moment, maybe, uh, 15 to 20 years ago, actually my mentor, Jason Clay was one of the first to really bring a lot of attention to this. And it started, he actually did a Ted Talk that's really great, but it started with this understanding that, you know, if we want to make an impact in food, part of it starts by focusing on the, the smaller number of companies and organizations that actually control the production and the distribution of food. And that was a big moment. It's like, you know, we can't maybe impact the one and a half billion farmers everywhere, and we can maybe change the hearts and minds of seven plus billion consumers, but maybe we can look at that middle ground of those 200 plus companies that control the flow of food. And I think that was a big moment for World Wildlife Fund. And that's, you know, that's where a lot of this has gone. It's like we're trying to impact Walmart and Cargill. And a lot of these companies that actually are right in the middle of how food works globally.

AS (07:58): Hmm. That's really interesting because in business, in any industry, there are those companies that have developed and been launched in the last 10, 15 years and with the threat of climate as an everyday part of everyday conversation, and those companies might have sustainability as part of their core mission, core blueprint, right from the day that they were founded. And at the same time, though, I think going for these companies and creating conversations, dialogues with these companies that are really at the intersection of how it all works in the restaurant industry, in groceries, in schools and in all of that is a massive opportunity.

PP (08:39): Totally is. I think there's a growing recognition that when we look at sustainability or regenerative agriculture, even climate change, you have to understand that the food is going to be impacted by these things, and you'd have to make adjustments. And I think these companies are realizing that. And I think another big one is that we're realizing that nature is actually a healthy ecosystem is a big part of a healthy agricultural system. And when we don't take care of nature, it comes back to bite us. And we really start to see a degradation of our agricultural system and the long-term health of our food system. And you're seeing that more now with, with even big companies, small holders, the whole thing, it's just, now, it's a matter of, can we do these things fast enough? Can we get to where we need to be fast enough? It's not a question of not seeing the end goal it's can we accelerate progress?

AS (09:37): Yup. Well, again, to allude to what I said earlier, food is not something that people can pick and choose whether they want to, you know, whether they want to be a part of it. People need food, we will need food. As long as we're here on this earth.

PP (09:50): Absolutely. We all need food and we've all grown up conditioned to eat certain things. And making changes to those habits is incredibly difficult. I'm not here as a preacher saying that thou shalt eat, you know, a certain thing because myself, I view myself as often a hypocrite, right? I come to this, not as a vegetarian or a vegan. And so I'm conflicted with this every single day. But I also, I think if everybody had the understanding as to what is sacrificed, when we fill our plates and our refrigerators each day, if everybody just had that idea of what is sacrificed, we would be a lot further ahead in the game right now, because we have to have that appreciation for what food is on a planet with finite resources and a growing and more affluent population. It's critical. You know, I view food as the nexus to a lot of our issues over the next 50 to a hundred years.

AS (10:50): Um, and so you're, you're speaking to a reverence of food and I think too, the importance of people being in the inquiry of what that, what that looks like, what their consumption is, how they could change rather than forcing a particular way of life, because that's just, let's get real. That's not gonna work.

PP (11:10): Absolutely. Yeah. I mean, when you look at our strategy world, wildlife fund focuses on three areas. Um, one, we want to see that sustainable production is improved. So you have things like the Marine stewardship council that handles freshwater fishing, or you look at, uh, sustainable Palm oil, right? We want to see sustainable production. We also want to see a consciousness shift in looking at what we eat, you know, a move towards sustainable and planet healthy diets. I think the hardest thing about diets is that we have to approach it from a cultural and regional standpoint. There's not going to be a one size fits all for the whole planet. We need to be looking at how this fits in and has cultural and regional relevance in terms of what people eat in their diets. The third pillar is the one that I get to work in, which is food loss and waste. And it's a little less contentious, right? Because I think most people, most listeners right now would say, yeah, we don't want to see waste in the system. Reducing or eliminating waste is a good thing.

AS (12:15): And the question then becomes, how do we incentivize that? Which we'll get into shortly here. So speaking of regional and local, uh, and cultural necessities, what does our food system look like in America right now? And what are the implications for climate change and for our communities?

PP (12:36): Yeah, I mean, in the United States, uh, you know, culturally, we, we have a culture where we get most, anything we need, anytime we want, we don't really have a diet of seasonality per se. Like you go to the grocery stores, everything is available from, from pretty much all over the world at any time. We, if you look at how we rank in terms of our dietary guidelines, you know, we probably eat too many, too much of certain categories like red meat and some animal proteins. And so, you know, we could probably do a lot in just consuming a little less in terms of waste. We can always, we can waste a lot more than we waste right now, right? So we have between 30 and 40% of the food that we produce is lost or wasted. Those are the estimates that have come out, you know, over the last 10 years. And when people hear that, it's like, Whoa, that's, that's insane. You know, 30 to 40% of the food system.

AS (13:33): It's gut wrenching. In addition to the environmental impact, I just think of how much money is thrown down the drain. When you think, you know, when you, when you really add that up or how much communities don't have food. And so there's just, there's a disparity in what's available to different communities as well.

PP (13:52): Completely, you know, and, and, you know, when you look at it, it's what we try to bring to this is not, it's not just money, you know, it's billions and billions of dollars, but it's the waste of the water. It's the waste of the land. It's the waste of the labor. It's, it's a carbon impact. And, you know, in some places, depending on what you're buying, you know, it could be something as simple as all the condos or coffee. Uh, there is a biodiversity impact to that. You know, most people don't realize too, that even in the United States, we have an area, we call the Northern great Plains. We lose grasslands at about the same rate that we're losing rainforests in Brazil. We lose that amount of space almost each year in our, in our American grasslands. And it's one of the last temperate grasslands left. It's one of the largest left in the world. And, you know, we have a major, major project in our Northern great Plains region that is trying to save the American and Canadian grasslands.

AS (14:55): For those not too familiar with grasslands, what's the implication of losing that area and that habitat?

PP (15:03): You know, I mean, for those concerned about things like climate change, the first one is, is it, they are a major, uh, carbon sink. Like when we look at a healthy grassland ecosystem that is pulling carbon from atmosphere, it's creating healthy soils and it's maintaining a biodiversity, a rich bio-diversity landscape. What it also does is it helps with things like water quality, better water infiltration. And here's the other thing. It provides a great place to raise cattle and to graze herbivores. You know, so a lot of people think that we have to absolutely get rid of herbivores and cattle and beef, but in reality, in order to maintain healthy grasslands, we need those herbivores. We need those animals grazing the landscapes to ensure we have healthy grasslands.

AS (15:54): So what I'm hearing is there's, there are individuals out there who are proponents of a very strict, very all or nothing mindset. And what I'm hearing is that just like with anything in nature, it's balanced, that's needed. It's not, you know, wiping out a certain, a certain way of life. It's really just balance.

PP (16:15): That's, that's what I'm saying. Yeah. I think it's balanced, but it's also this idea of radical transparency. You know, we need to be thinking about the science of these things, the science of the food system, measuring the impact of the food system and not just the impact on biodiversity and land use and water quality, but we need a system that works for people. We need a system that is profitable for farmers that is scalable. Um, I think a lot of people think, Hey, let's just make everything local and small farmers, but I'm here to say that there, you know, there's a lot of issues with being able to scale that and making sure that it's profitable for farmers. And so you gotta be realistic about these things it's that you can't come in with just a dogma of one thing versus another, like it's complicated.

PP (17:06): It's regional. What works in one place might not work in another place, but it still points to like food being a nexus and something that we culturally have to get. Right. It's it's imperative. Now, again, I get to work in the space of food loss and waste, right? So what we try to do is introduce this idea of that rapid and really radical transparency means to be happening around waste. We have got to get businesses and people comfortable with sharing data on how much waste they generate and get everybody moving towards a future where either their business or their home really even create waste, right? Because we need to rethink the entire idea of what waste is and remove all the things we've been culturally conditioned to accept. And to be honest, not even think about with regards to waste.

AS (18:04): Well, it's just, it's mindfulness. I grew up understanding things, work a certain way, and unless we're provoked to start questioning and looking at what those implications are, you know, that's what's needed. And so industry-wide, is there a particular area of the food industry where there is the biggest opportunity to, to shift things there's hospitality, retail, grocers, food, service farms. Is there a particular part of that industry where you think that's where focus is needed most or where the most opportunity lies?

PP (18:40): Yeah. I mean, if you look at just the issue of food loss and waste, most of the estimates put the waste on the latter end of the supply chain, meaning that it's what happens from the grocery store to your home. That probably is the biggest area of opportunity, right? We waste a lot of food in our homes, um, and in the process of marketing and trying to sell food to consumers, there's a lot of waste that happens in that exchange. And part of this is a result of just having so much abundance, uh, relative to income food is relatively cheap in the United States. And so part of it is a product of value, right? What we waste is a reflection of what we value and when things can be cheap and be so abundant that they can be expendable. You're going to waste more.

PP (19:34): I know for me, like when COVID really first started to hit around March, man, I, I had never been so thankful to have a pantry full of food. I'm sure other people were the same. And the first time that we, uh, we had a delivery of food, I just wanted to go out and hug the delivery person, you know? And no, I mean, I can't at these moments, but yeah. I gave him a healthy tip that's that's for sure. Yeah. But, Oh my gosh, that was, that was just such an amazing moment because I felt like we all started to reconnect with this appreciation for food again now. Yeah. People were, I was scared, like, was food going to be coming? Like, would we have shortages? This is something that, you know, millions and billions of people live with every single day. And we are so lucky in the United States to not have to worry about these things most of the time, but we have to remember there's millions of people even here in the United States that worry about food insecurity. And so it's a big deal. Like we need to really think this through. And when we waste so much of it, what kind of does that make, like, we're not taking care of each other. If we allow this waste to be occurring,

AS (20:52): You hit on something. Yeah. Really important. And that was my experience. Well, as well in COVID I had never, you know, I, I understand logically, and I know that that, that issue is out there, that there are people every day who don't know where their next meal is coming from, or there's children going to school without lunch and experiencing that first hand that, that panic, panic buying that, that panic and that uncertainty, it really, I think sometimes it takes those experiences for people who have an abundance to really get the reality of what people deal with every day and what could become a reality for them in the future. Are there, what, what communities or regions are hit hardest in the US by food scarcity right now?

PP (21:48): Well, I mean, it typically happens to people. I mean, obviously lower income people that can't afford, uh, food as it's priced, um, people that have lost their jobs, especially in the wake of COVID, you have a lot more unemployment. You have people that are needing this food assistance. It's communities that have food deserts that don't even have access to grocery stores. Like there's a lot of places and pockets in this country where people can't even, you know, go shopping within a relatively close proximity to their home for food and fresh groceries. What I think needs to happen is there has to be, and there is like, we have a national goal to reduce our food loss and waste 50% by 2030. This national goal is in line with global goals to do the same thing. These are part of sustainable development goals globally.

PP (22:42): And, you know, I think in order to really do this, it has to go beyond companies and States, just making commitments. We have to get radically transparent and start actively measuring the amount of loss happening in the system. The amount of waste happening in the system. And this measurement has to be real time. Like we have to understand it in mere real time in order to really make these changes, to create a feedback loop that makes us constantly look at and reflect how much waste regenerating with the eye towards actually preventing it. Right. I think when we think about an issue like food waste, we immediately, our brains go to let's start composting. Let's do an anaerobic digestion. Right? All of those things are required. And I would say in order to get measurement into this radical transparency, you're going to have to have those systems in place before you can start measuring.

PP (23:44): Like, we need to make sure that every community in America has organic diversion from landfill, get the food waste out of landfill. But what we really want to do is reduce the size of the compost pile. Right? Right. We want to measure that and say, Hey, next month, let's cut that in half, because what you're really cutting in half is dollars. It's money. Like every Business 101. Absolutely. Like if you don't pass this course in business. It's really simple. But what's happened is we've become conditioned to some of these fixed costs in business. Like somehow we think that if I run a restaurant or if I run a hotel, that garbage bill I get every month, that's just a fixed cost. Well, it's not like, you know, rejigger your brain a little bit to say, no, this is not a fixed cost. And it's actually a cost that we can reduce maybe to almost zero in some places through prevention and real efforts to measure and to calculate that.

AS (24:47): We're speaking to, if we're looking at the business side of things, the monetary incentive of food waste to get from food waste to resource optimization is just getting materials out of the waste stream. Prevention, save money, save resources, same time. Absolutely. Yeah. Yeah. And, and I imagine prevention is challenging to measure and that having those measurements it's not an, Oh, let me ask you, is having the measurements enough or does that data have to be shared with others to really get the full picture of where competitors are at?

PP (25:30): It does. I mean, the data that you collect has to be part of a, what I call a cross-functional, uh, feedback loop within your organization. So, you know, we spent the last five years working with hotels, working with restaurants, working with grocery retailers. What's difficult is you, if you have, you know, like Hilton and Marriott, they've set food waste reduction goals, great to set these at a corporate level, but you have to have these goals trickle down and have them be part of a culture at like a hotel level, right? Individual hotels need to be doing this down to their individual location level. And so that's where it becomes rich. But it's also difficult because you're talking about companies that have thousands of locations and how do you get these goals to trickle down and be of importance to every single person, right? Everybody's got a different personality. They interpreted differently. Sometimes it's not even on the priority list for them, but, uh, that's what we're after. It's like saturation down even to the lowest levels that this is something that we're all benefiting from. If we can reduce waste.

AS (26:41): And from a business perspective, obviously data is data is precious. Data is private. Data is something that companies don't want to share. But what is the business incentive of sharing pre competitively?

PP (26:59): Yeah, this is, this is the big one for me. There's a lot of businesses still that I interact with who view the idea that waste is a competitive data point and that if they are sharing their secret recipe, so to speak of how to reduce waste, if they were to share that with their competitors and they're somehow giving them, giving away their secrets, which is allowing their competitors to create a better margin, right. For themselves, right. If their competitor reduces their waste, then they're also reducing costs potentially. And so they're becoming more profitable. Now I get it. That's also Business 101. But what I think happens is if we collectively start approaching the issue of waste pre competitively, where it's everybody as a community saying, let's figure out ways to do this more efficiently and effectively then what you have is an increase in the scalability of waste reduction.

PP (28:03): Right? So now it's not just my little grocery chain or my restaurant trying to figure out an option for composting or anaerobic digestion. Now I get to share that investment cost with everybody in my community. And we all get to benefit from this waste reduction plan or this goal. That's where I think it can be magical. And I think you have it happening in some places you have. We're working on a project with the West coast of the United States. So Oregon, Washington, California, and where I think we can get to this magical state is where you have these individual communities and counties saying, we're going to collectively start reporting, creating these feedback loops with our business and start to get them to actually reduce how much food waste they generate. That's a benefit to everybody. And when you invest in those solutions as a collective, it's less expensive for each business and the benefits of the collective doing it far, outweigh anybody trying to do it by themselves.

AS (29:07): That's brilliant. And what do you say? What do you say when there are companies and businesses that say, no?

PP (29:17): You just keep on them. I think you just, you keep after this idea that, well, here's the thing like with regards to waste, if we don't get voluntary commitments from the business community and from communities overall, we're just going to have to, it's going to be required that we try to get it like waste cannot be part of the system. In some places we might have to say that it's required to provide this data. And I am not a proponent of regulations and requiring this. I would much rather this be a voluntary commitment of businesses to come together and do this. But like I said, at the, uh, at the beginning, like we're just running out of time. We need to show progress against these issues. And we need the business community to do this pre competitively with us.

AS (30:12): Hmm. Well, and this brings me to the human side of things, right? This all goes down to perception of what's, what's real, what's urgent, what's a priority. And that goes for businesses as well as consumers. So people say that going plant-based is arguably one of the most impactful changes you could make if you're out to combat climate change or live more sustainably. And that, that change often comes down to personal preference or cost or health and what's needed what's needed for health. So what would you say what makes a difference in getting people to see the opportunity of making dietary changes?

PP (31:04): You know, I think, I think everybody needs to recognize, I mean, we know certain things in your refrigerator and your pantry carry a higher environmental footprint. You know, when we look at things like animal proteins and dairy products, they carry an extremely high environmental footprint, right? The land, the water, everything that it takes to grow those foods. Now, if we are going to, to become better in terms of our food system, certain things absolutely should not be wasted or squandered, especially if they're those higher environmental footprint items, you know, so throwing out meats and proteins and dairy products should be almost to the point of taboo, you know, where it, we should feel it like, Oh my gosh, I do not want to throw these products out. But more importantly, I think it points to, if you are consuming those products, do it smartly. Right? I love the idea of food as a subscription model.

AS (32:04): Hmm. Say more about that.

PP (32:06): I think that most of us have a pattern, right? I mean, if you look at every week, what happens in your family or with you personally, there's 80% of what you do is probably a pattern now. Right? You eat some of the same things. Most of the time, the hardest decision is just figuring out what to eat. You know, family at four, it's just like, Oh my gosh, what are we going to eat tonight? Right. But there is a pattern to how you shop and the things that you buy. And so one of the keys is to try to create a pattern that creates as little waste as possible to where you're buying more than you need, and ultimately having to throw it out. Uh, and then recognizing as part of that pattern that you want to make better efforts to buy products that are better, right. That either have, um, certifications, you know, like, uh, like if you're buying seafood products, look for that Marine stewardship council or that Aqua culture, stewardship council, you know, products that we know are sourced and procured better. You know, it's even things like our family. We go kind of nuts lately, looking at how much, how many products have Palm oil in them.

PP (33:19): And we want to look for, if you're going to buy product with Palm oil, look for that, uh, responsible Palm oil certification, right. And that gets really difficult. It can drive you a little nuts, but I think that's the journey we all need to be on. Is that constant questioning and figuring out how do we make things a little better? And how are the products we're buying maybe helping to make the planet better? So this is what gives me hope is that I think we're, we're getting a real, we're getting a realization that agriculture can also be part of solutions for the future, right? That agriculture itself, through healthier soils, through, through better, uh, healthy soil practices that help to increase healthy water filtration, they can actually be a solution for a lot of the problems we see if we're able to better manage our agricultural systems and to, as consumers be demanding that more right when demand increases, guess what? We start to see that production change and people respond farmers and, and food manufacturers, they respond to that demand change. And that's what we need to be looking for in contemplating.

AS (34:40): Well, that's another piece of the magic is that if you, if you tackle food, it's not, it's, there's, there's not singular solutions. It impacts health impacts. And health then impacts healthcare. And with agriculture impacts, lives of farmers impacts communities being able to have access to food. It's just there to me, there's a ripple effect of the positive change that can happen as well, if you really pay attention.

PP (35:12): Absolutely. I mean, one of the things that I have nerded out over the past eight years or so is soil health, you know, and in some ways it can be a silver bullet. Like if we all became really conscious about soil health and we purchased food that was building healthy soil, and there was a way to verify that and validate that that's an amazing future. Like that's rebuilding the ground up and it's the perfect thing that we should be focused on and, and have our food system reflect is healthy soil.

AS (35:46): I would love to nerd out with you on that sometime, it's a whole other episode. Yeah. So where can we go from here? Let's, let's get into some actions that consumers and businesses can start taking to shift the food industry and have a better quality of life as well.

PP (36:06): Yeah. I mean, I think really simply for the business community, it's start to look at community collectives where you're sharing your data and your waste information pre competitively, like maybe even start to form one within, within your hyper-local community with the other grocery retailers, talk to them and restaurants. Hey, let's figure out a system for how we can collectively start reducing how much food waste we generate. And in places that don't have composting or, or anaerobic digestion or pick up of organic materials, create a cohort of businesses that want to start it and want to work with the city in a public and private sector partnership. I think that's the first thing, um, for people in homes, I mean, what I do is I try to compost and I try to make sure I'm separating out food waste from the trash food is not trash.

PP (36:58): When we send it to landfill, it becomes an entirely new problem of something that creates methane emissions. And so, you know, we try to keep everything separated as much as possible. Food stays out of the trash. All you need is like a pretty small footprint, you know, uh, four feet by four feet pad, somewhere where you can put a tumbler or a composter problem solved. Now over time, you want to make sure that you're reducing how much you generate, but you know, most of us don't eat banana peels. So there's always going to be organic material that goes to waste, become part of that cycle. And, uh, don't treat food as trash.

AS (37:38): Don't treat food as trash. You should TM that. And, uh, you know, one thing that I've, that I've taken on myself is actually adding up, writing down and adding up the cost of anything I put in the trash because I forgot it was there. Or, you know, it's spoiled early or what have you. And it's just a way to measure what, another way to measure it. And it seems to kind of click in my brain that really that's, that's all that I'm putting in the trash. So I would offer that.

PP (38:15): Yeah, it can become a game and it can be fun. Like how many times a month do you not have to put the trash at the curb? You know, try to fill up that trash bin maybe once a month versus once every week, these things can be fun. And I would say, get your kids involved in it. I mean, my kids don't like this, but you know, my son's in charge of the compost pile. My daughter's in charge of recycling. Like they just, these are conditioned norms. Now they know this is part of life and this is what they have to do. But I also think it's any more to like, there's a hypersensitivity to plastics. Yeah. I think everybody needs to go to the store and realize, you know, how do I cut down on, on what I even need to recycle or what I need to compost by changing how I purchase things. Right. It's more about changing how you purchase, uh, versus being reactive at the end of the pipe. So to speak and worrying about how much waste you generate.

AS (39:10): It starts in the store. Yeah. Is what you're saying. Yeah. Yeah. And are there any resources online that consumers or businesses, or both could go to on that World Wildlife Fund put out?

PP (39:23): Yeah. I mean, I'd say for any business that is in Oregon, Washington, California, even British Columbia, there is a, an effort within the Pacific Coast Collaborative to it's a West Coast commitment to reduce food waste. That's online. Uh, again, the, the, the Pacific Coast Collaborative World Wildlife Fund has also created toolkits for the hospitality industry through the American Hotel and Lodging Association. We've worked with the restaurant industry through the National Restaurant Association, and we're getting ready to publish a toolkit for retail, grocery stores as well. And then finally, we've got a really cool set of tools. Uh, that's now available for schools, and I get excited about this. Like if you look institutionally at the school system, huge, huge institutional provider of food service to millions of kids every day. And hopefully we get kids in school at some point and, and can return back to some normalcy, but we call it our food waste warrior program. That's also online on our website and I think a great resource for teachers and students.

AS (40:32): Brilliant. Thank you. We've covered a lot. I think what I'm, what I'm walking away with is food is not trash. That's burned in my brain forever. And what do you want to leave listeners with?

PP (40:44): It's it's for me, I just try to take time everyday to appreciate what food represents, which is something that I always try to be healthy. Um, it's, it's something that you want to be, you want to take advantage of the pleasures. Food can give you though too, like, you don't want to just throw everything out the window, but it comes at an incredible sacrifice. At least for me personally, I've just tried to take a little less if I can. And part of that is it reduces my waste, but it also, I always say it reduces my waistline too, right? Like if I, if I'm just eating a little less, um, and not wasting as much in the process, it's probably a healthier thing for me as well, but this is my personal little recipe. Right. I would just encourage everybody, whether you're a business owner, you want to do this personally, start your own journey on it. And just start from the position that food does require an incredible sacrifice. And the more people we get taking their food journeys, the better the planet is going to be in the future. Create your own recipe. Yeah, absolutely. Pun. Very much intended. Yeah. It's tough. It's tough in food. Like there's too many of them, you know, low-hanging fruit. You're killing me.

AS (42:04): Uh, okay, awesome. Thank you so much, Pete. This has been a really fantastic conversation and let's nerd out on soil health soon. Yeah? Yeah.

PP (42:12): Sounds great. Thank you. Okay.

AS (42:14): From the bottom of my eco-heart. Thank you so much for being with me today. I can't wait to see what we create together. If you loved what you heard and are hungry for more, don't forget to click subscribe in this app. Also, I want to hear from you, tell me your burning sustainability questions, or even what's inspiring you by following me on Instagram @getrealwithas or liking the Get Real Facebook page. Talk to you soon.

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