“We are either going to have a future where women lead the way to make peace with the Earth or we are not going to have a human future at all.”

Vandana Shiva

This famous quote by Indian environmental activist Vandana Shiva underlines the essence of sisterhood, who may not be biologically related but embodies a strong bond between women environmentalists, dedicating their lives to defend the planet. Similarly, the leading ladies behind Taste Before You Waste resonates the sisterhood vibe through their collective support and action towards combating food waste. Follow through the exciting journey of the leading ladies behind Taste Before You Waste and how their roles and responsibilities have changed over the years.

How Luana started the journey of TBYW:

 

Taste Before You Waste started in late 2012 with Luana, who – inspired by a documentary on food waste – went out to her local grocery shops in Amsterdam East. To her amazement, most of the shop owners were more than happy to give her all their surplus food. Initially working closely with the refugee community and the squatting community to redistribute the rescued produce, Luana decided to start her own initiative: Taste Before You Waste! Starting with bike pick-ups, food waste dinners in the neighbourhood and markets on campus soon after, our community grew quickly.

Involvement of Sophia with Luana during 2016-17: 

Luana & Sophia© TBYW Media collection

In 2016, Luana and her friend Sophia, becoming ever more involved, officially registered the organisation as a foundation and dedicated themselves full-time to the development of Taste Before You Waste.

For almost two years they worked love, sweat and tears together, always learning from each other and always taking on new challenges, such as developing an educational programme on food waste and teaching it to school kids or providing professional catering services.

Sophia & Luana ©TBYW Media Collections

 

Luana’s new position as Chair of TBYW’ Board from 2017 :

Luana left the Netherlands in 2017 to travel Asia in search of knowledge and experience in communal living, self-sufficiency, co-creation and permaculture with the aim of starting her own project in Portugal. In her new position as Chair of TBYW’s Board, Luana now advises the coordinators with her expertise and gets to enjoy how the organisation keeps on growing to new heights, while she is traveling. 

Sophia’ current role as Co-founder and Former Coordinator: 

Sophia Bensch (Co-founder, former Coordinator)

Sophia, for her part, dared to hold her position alone, ensuring continuity for all the activities, consisting of weekly wasteless dinners, markets, workshops, and occasional social caterings, lectures and school programmes. With such frequent activities and our belief in community, we were able to cultivate a space for sharing experiences, best practises, knowledge and world views on food, sustainability and environmental justice. We extended the invitation to engage with these topics to our guests by introducing a second weekly dinner with cultural programming. 

Sophia in action towards food rescue ©TBYW Media Collection

Lara as the General Coordinator from 2019: 

Lara Egbring (General Coordinator)

In search of a partner to eventually pass the torch to, Sophia found Lara, a particularly engaged and connected team member, who is ready to lead our community and stand up for the people and the environment. Since the beginning of 2019 she is officially coordinating TBYW and her fresh ideas are not waiting around.

Her belief in environmental activism steers TBYW in a direction in which empowerment of the people, one of the core values of the foundation, plays a central role in creating more awareness regarding food waste.

Lara (on the right) in action at the Food Market ©TBYW Media Collections

 

 

How the TBYW is growing under our sisterhood? 

Seeing our community at our current location in Amsterdam is steadily growing we want to follow our mission of ‘Revolutionizing the food system one neighborhood at a time’ and spread out to help communities around the city to reach more positive environmental impact, while engaging the people in delicious neighborhood dinners. More specifically, we strive to help communities set up their own TBYW Wasteless Dinner with the aim of them taking over once they are ready. Through this, we hope to encourage citizens to take initiative in the strive towards a more environmentally conscious city. Our end goal is to reduce the food waste one neighborhood at a time, while building up a network of similar organisations and partners. 

Sophia & Lara ©TBYW Media Collections

Now, in February 2019, Sophia is excited to go travelling for 2 months, meeting Luana in the Philippines. When she gets back, Sophia is eager to join Lara’s team and get cracking on a political strategy, advocating for social and environmental justice. 

These three women, Luana, Sophia and Lara, have given rise, shape and direction to Taste Before You Waste over the years. We believe female leadership is vital for a more inclusive and sustainable future. We are sisters in the fight against a wasteful food system, sisters in the fight against capitalism, sisters in the fight against the patriarchy. 

 

Click on the below video to find out how Taste Before You Waste is shaping under our sisterhood:

 

 

 

TBYW at the marches

Leading up to this weekend, with The Women’s March on Saturday, and The Climate March on Sunday, TBYW members have been active organising a number of informative events. On the 18th of February our Cultural Monday dinner welcomed a special guest from The Women’s March organisation for a talk on this year’s theme, and the link between feminism and environmentalism. Following that, a banner making event was held on the 26th of February were people got together armed with paint, paper, and plenty of slogans, such as Don’t be a fossil fool, or The Future is Feminist.

On the 9th of March, TBYW members join The Women’s march at Dam square decked out in aprons and banners. The following day, 10th of March TBYW members and all those who wish to join, will gather at Dokhuis Galerie and then at 12:30 start walking together towards The Climate March at Dam square. 

The call for social change, and the betterment in individuals’ and communities’ living conditions, is what drew TBYW to participate in these marches. Our mission to address and reduce food waste is a single expression of the various areas which require social change. As an organisation we believe in grassroots actions are a definitive means for structural change, which both of these demonstrations embody. Awareness of pressing social and environmental issues are part of our core values, so what better way to raise awareness than to take to the streets?

The Women’s March

We at TBYW will be participating in The Women’s March because of the shared belief that a more equitable and just world is possible, and we have a role in making it so. This year’s march focuses on Intersectionality, (keep reading for more on this theory) which goes beyond gender and holds as one of its core principles, environmental justice. By this it is meant, that each and every individual retains the right to clean water and air, and access to and enjoyment of public lands. Our environment and climate must be protected, and natural resources cannot be exploited for corporate gain or greed – especially at the risk of public safety and health.

©Nynke Vissia

A brief history of the Women’s March;

The Women’s March originated in the United States back in 2017, on the 21st of January, between 3,267,134 and 5,246,670 people attended the largest ever single-day protest in the U.S. The aim of this march was to advocate for policies and legislation regarding human rights in general and other specific issues, relating to gender, health care, reproductive rights, racial equality, LGBTQIA rights, workers’ rights, immigration, environmental justice and freedom of creed. As one of the organiser states “It’s about basic equality for all” (Felsenthal, 2017). This march developed into a global movement, and on the same year over seven million people participated in sister marches worldwide.

This 9th of March, The Women’s March is being held here in Amsterdam. People are invited to gather at Dam square at 12:30 p.m. and then proceed to peacefully march towards Museumplein where the march will conclude at 15:00. This year’s focus is on Intersectionality within the movement, the march aims to protest multiple forms of inequalities which individuals experience based on their particular identities.

©Salmon Design

Intersectionality is a theory which states that individuals experience layered discrimination particular to the multiple minority stratifications they fall under, such as; class, gender, race, age, sexual orientation, religion, and ability. Meaning that for example, the experience of sexism for a young queer woman are different from that of an elder cis-woman, and these differences matter. Intersectionality provides a broader spectrum with which to understand and analyse the multiple forms of oppression, which is essential in addressing it. The term intersectionality was first used in a feminist theory context by theorist Kimberle Crenshaw in her paper “Demarginalizing the Intersection of Race and Sex: A Black Feminist Critique of Antidiscrimination Doctrine, Feminist Theory and Antiracist Politics” (1989). Though the idea of interlocking discrimination had been discussed in previous feminist work, such as the Grimke sisters (Davis, 1983).

The feminist movement is made up of individuals who fall under multiple identify factors; queer women, black women, poor women, this is to say that individuals are not hyphenated identities but a totality of their plurality (Lorde, 1982). If the movement were to only focus on the gender issue it would erase the layered discrimination they experience. For a social movement to truly emancipate their people it needs to recognise that all struggles are inseparable (Davis, 1983).  Therefore, Intersectionality proposes a space within movements, where individuals belonging to multiple minority stratifications can articulate their story and theorize their experience and analysis of oppression (Crenshaw, 1989).

 

The Climate March

The atmospheric changes that we are presently experiencing are a result of neglect and misuse of our natural environment, the issue of food waste provides a clear example of this. The production of food contributes to 30% of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, yet half of the food we produce is thrown out. Besides GHGs, this accounts for the loss of water, energy, and land resources which would have been required for production.  Finally, the decomposing food emits methane, a greenhouse gas that is twenty-one times more potent than carbon dioxide. Considering that climate change will only worsen food access and security, we are responsible for our future generations to act now and hold our leaders accountable for their inaction. Therefore,TBYW only saw it fit to attend the Klimaatmars to bind forces and contribute towards a wider movement towards food security and climate justice. 

On Sunday the 10th of March, the streets of Amsterdam will be filled with environmentalist, nature-lovers, climate activists and all those demanding a more sustainable future. People are to gather on Dam square at 1 p.m. and proceed to walk towards Museumplein where the march will wrap up at 16:00.  This demonstration is an initiative of a collection of local environmental organisations including; Milieudefensie together with FNV, Greenpeace, DeGoedeZaak , Woonbond and Oxfam Novib, calling for immediate climate action from authorities. The march itself is a result of multiple other actions, such as rallies around the Netherlands, information sessions and discussions on fair climate policy, organizing meetups to recruit volunteers, distribute local posters and flyers, even organising group travel to Sunday’s march.

©Eino Sierpe

©Nel Berens

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On their event page, the organisers state that the aim of The Climate March is a fair climate policy.  This is meant as a wake-up call to authorities and representatives to step up their responsibilities in mitigating and adapting to climate change, and for big polluters to be held accountable for pollution. Climate change has been debated on a global level for decades, yet reaction from governments has sadly, not matched the urgency of the matter. Now we are left with much less time and a much bigger issue to face.The march wants to show that people are watching their governments and are unimpressed with their insufficient action to address climate change deliberately.A change in the present way of addressing climate change is called for, with more concrete agreements need, creation of green jobs, and the implementation of the Polluter Pays Principle (PPP).

OECD (1997) defines the Polluter Pays Principle as “… the polluter should bear the cost of measures to reduce pollution according to the extent of either the damage done to society or the exceeding of an acceptable level (standard) of pollution.

© EESC glossaries

The principle assumes that an acceptable state of the environment must be maintained, if polluters degrade this state, the victims of pollution are entitled for financial compensation. Impacts of climate change tend to be felt especially by the weakest and most vulnerable, who often have contributed least to changing the global atmosphere. This compensation is then used to reverse the degradation and re-establish an acceptable state of the environment. When polluters, knowingly or unknowingly cause irreversible environmental degradation they bear full responsibility of the impact. In exchanging environmental degradation into financial costs, polluters are bound to internalize environmental costs in their activities. An example is for greenhouse gas emissions to be priced at such a level to avoid dangerous climate change(Dellink R., 2009).

Seeing the connections

The individual issues of food waste, climate justice, and feminist intersectionality, collectively concern the sustainability and equity of our society. We have to come to the realisation that we do not live in a single- issue society. Through our experiences we are not subjected to one issue exclusive of all other, rather we go through life experiencing or witnessing different struggles simultaneously. In broadening our perspective and identifying the interlinkages between environmental, social, and gender issue, we increase opportunities for understanding, and finding alternative solutions.

As a foundation TBYW believes that marching is an important medium to create positive change regarding social and environmental justice. Food is only an accessible entry point (everyone consumes food) for a wider discussion about sustainability and social change. While TBYW strives for empowerment of the people to consume consciously and treat each other equally we also seek to pressure authorities to support local initiatives and prioritise food and gender equality in a structural manner. Therefore we are involved in broader social issues and supportive towards a wider social justice movement. Ultimately the more we actively include everyone in the creation of alternatives, the more successful will the outcome of a sustainable and equitable future, be.

Sources

Adewunmi, B. (2014)

Crenshaw, K. (1989)

Davis, A. Y. (1983)

Dellink Rob, d. E. (2009)

Felsenthal, J. (2017) 

Lorde, A. (1982)

Vercillo, S. (2016)

Kimberlé Crenshaw – On Intersectionality  – keynote – WOW 2016