Campaign hoped to raise awareness of food waste

Wānaka Wastebusters staff Toby Butland and Celine Van der Eecken are heading Every Bite, a new...
Wānaka Wastebusters staff Toby Butland and Celine Van der Eecken are heading Every Bite, a new Wastebusters campaign to raise awareness about food waste, in conjunction with the Zero Waste Network. PHOTO: MARJORIE COOK
If all the edible food chucked in the bin around the country last year was rounded up, it would feed the Upper Clutha region for two decades, Wanaka Wastebusters food appreciation campaigners say.

Toby Butland and Celine Van der Eecken are the local faces behind a campaign, Every Bite, which aims to reduce household food waste around the country by 10%.

Mr Butland and Ms Van der Eecken teamed up with Zero Waste Aotearoa Network earlier this year to pilot Every Bite with 20 Wānaka families.

They now want to find 100 families to participate in a four-week project based on what is in their fridge.

"Homes in Aotearoa are throwing away over 157,000 tonnes of edible food every year — that’s enough to feed everyone in the Upper Clutha region for more than 20 years. 

"We know communities in the region care about minimising their waste throughout their households and we’re really looking forward to helping people move towards greater food resourcefulness," campaign lead Mr Butland said this week.

During the pilot, Mr Butland put daily food waste into an icecream container on his kitchen bench.

He observed how much food he was throwing away — especially limp lettuce — and that he was buying too much.

"It was not much to do, actually, but I was so unaware of what was going into the bin. It was just money being wasted and there is money to be saved there," he said.

He reorganised his fridge so the top shelf became the "eat me first" shelf and he began cooking from ingredients in the fridge rather than shopping for each meal.

Another thing he did was to encourage his children to make their  school lunches, using the food they appreciated, in the hope they would stop bringing uneaten food home.

He found busy families could take simple steps to reduce food waste.

"We are buying less and it is not all going limp in the crisper," he said.

Every Bite programme manager Ms Van der Eecken said her goals were to educate people about the resources that went into producing food and observe how much was wasted when food went straight to the compost bin.

"It is about rethinking food purchases, storage and efficient use of food. 

"When you dig into it, there’s more changes people can make," she said.

Mr Buckland said each family involved in the pilot had a different experience, but learned to appreciate more about food.

The Zero Waste Network is funded by the Ministry for the Environment. 

Four regional hubs, including Wānaka, have been chosen to  start the national campaign at the end of this month.

During the Wānaka launch, Dripping Bowl owner Evelyn Vallilee, of Wānaka, will discuss ways to reduce spoilage and substitute ingredients in recipes.


The campaign

  • WHAT: Every Bite launch 
  • WHERE: Lake Wānaka Centre
  • WHEN: April 29, 6pm 
  • ABOUT: The four-week programme, including launch event costs $10. All proceeds go to local food recovery charity, Kiwi Harvest. Register Humanitix or


Crunching numbers

  • 10% household food waste reduction goal
  • 4 weeks in the programme
  • 100 families/participants wanted
  • 157,000 tonnes of edible food thrown away in New Zealand every year [Source: Love Food Hate Waste]