I consider myself to be an environmentalist.

At the age of twelve I found myself in my first environmental march holding a banner over my head and shouting slogans quite shyly. Since then I have been a member in a number of environmental NGOs and participated in events and clean ups. In my daily life I’m loyal to my tote bag and avoid using plastic, I use public transport or my trusted fiets, buy chemical free products, opt for fairtrade and organic products when possible, and most of my meals are plant-based. When elections come along I thoroughly look at environmental policies and projects in manifestos. Also, nature is my place to get away and recharge, there is nothing quite like a stroll surrounded by lush greenery or a dip in the blue sea to make me feel at peace again.

© Oxford Dictionaries

Environmentalism is the philosophy that our environment is worth protecting and we must be involved in its preservation. An environmentalist is then the individual who is concerned about protecting the environment. What I described previously is a very personal form of environmentalism and I’m sure that there are many out there who look at it and think, ‘Well, that’s not how I’d do it!’ I guess there are many different ways in which we can be environmentalists this is depends on our life style and choices, as we try to forge a greener path in an unsustainable system we’re currently experiencing.

The principal reason why we should all be environmentalist is because we are human. We inherently share this common need and responsibility towards the natural environment. This is because we depend on resources and all their services for our own existence, so really the well-being of the environment is also our own. It is only our own failure to not realise this. All the comforts that we have become accustomed to, and the lifestyles which we just think of as normal would not be possible without all these resources. Being an environmentalist is simply the recognition of one’s place and role within this ecosystem and its sustainability.

 

 

Earth day is a commemoration of this common commitment to safeguard our environment from deterioration and degradation. This day serves as an annual reminder of our everyday responsibility as individuals and communities to honour the natural environment in which we live (Earth Day Network, 2019).

 

 

The origins of this day are set in a time of civil protests and growing ecological awareness. In 1969 founder Gaylord Nelson, then a U.S. Senator from Wisconsin came up with the idea to set up a national day focusing on the environment. This came about after the massive oil spill in Santa Barbara, which was then the largest oil spill by waters the USA had suffered, killing birds, sea creatures and fouling coastlines. On the 22nd of April in 1970, twenty million Americans took to the streets to protest the negative impacts of one hundred and fifty years of industrialization and demanded a healthy sustainable environment for their communities (Earth Day Network, 2019).

 

Earth Day 1970 gave voice to that emerging consciousness, channelling the energy of the anti-war protest movement and putting environmental concerns on the front page.

Today over one billion people participate in various events around the globe. People march, sign petitions, organise clean-ups, meet with their elected officials, plant trees. Corporations and governments use it to make pledges and announce sustainability measures. Faith leaders even connect Earth Day with protecting God’s greatest creations, humans, biodiversity and the planet that we all live on (Earth Day Network, 2019).

 

These event spread over 193 countries are coordinated by the Earth Day Network (EDN) . The network’s aim is to broaden that which we understand by the environment, to include our health and communities. This richer definition draws the link between the earth’s and humans’ wellbeing, to redirect greater efforts towards the preservation of the natural environment for a common benefit. The Earth Day Network does this by creating civil engagement at multiple civil levels and working with those who are most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.

Diversifying – Educating – Activating

Each year Earth day puts up a lens to a specific environmental issue so the global population can take a closer look and understand. Earth day 2019 will bring to focus the global species decline, with this year’s theme being ‘Protect our species.’  Presently the earth is experiencing the greatest rate of extinction since the dinosaurs, the difference is that this rapid extinction is a result of human activity (Earth Day Network, 2019). Mainly through our unsustainable agriculture, deforestation, habitat loss, pesticides, pollution, poaching and trafficking of species, and impacts of climate change. While extinction of up to 5 species a year is considered normal, scientists estimate that we are now losing species at 1,000 to 10,000 times the normal rate. For more facts on this, click here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

This rapid species extinction presents a risk as it jeopardizes the balance upon which nature thrives. By wiping out other species we are abolishing our chance for a flourishing and sustainable planet. There is good news though, as this extinction rate can still be slowed down, and many of our declining, threatened and endangered species can still recover however this requires for us to collectively demand immediate action.

With this year’s theme the Earth Day Network aims to

  • Educate and raise awareness about the accelerating rate of extinction of millions of species and the causes and consequences of this phenomenon.
  • Achieve major policy victories that protect broad groups of species as well as individual species and their habitats.
  • Build and activate a global movement that embraces nature and its values.
  • Encourage individual actions such as adopting plant-based diet and stopping pesticide and herbicide use.

What the first Earth Day back in the 1970’s, was able to do was to bring together people from all walks of life. The realization of the common threat but also the collective potential to come up with solutions and address these environmental issues acted as an impetus to the modern global environmental movement. People are the heart and the conscience of this movement, and it is people who see that environmental issues are taken by their representatives and acted upon. So, all of us; professionals, pensioners, students, and all others are all environmentalists in our ways.

However, if you feel that you could use with some pointers, the Earth Day Network provides some simple Earth Day Tips!

Sources

Earth Day Network

How the 1969 Santa Barbara oil spill sparked Earth day

 

World Disco Soup Day 2019

Afbeeldingsresultaat voor fill bellies not bins

Code Orange! © Pebble Magazine

The 27th of April is the day that for 364 days a year, the Dutch are patiently waiting for: Kingsday. On this day the streets turn orange, people awake from their hibernation, crawl out of their caves, pet the dust off of their summer jackets and hit the streets where orange flags, beers, music and flea markets await.

Taste Before You Waste will not let this day go by unnoticed. We will join forces with the Slow Food Youth Network, Café de Ceuvel, Food Circle, Sapient Social & Environmental Enterprises, Guerilla Kitchen Amsterdam and Healthy and Affordable and turn Kingsday into World Disco Soup Day.

What?

World Disco Soup Day started seven years ago in Berlin as a protest soup where 8000 people were given sous from rescued products (Slow Food, n.d.). The protest soups soon began to spread to ask attention for a pressing problem: our failing food system. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization, over one-third of all the global production of food for human consumption is wasted (around 1.3 billion tons annually) while at the same time, 840 million people suffer from hunger, globally (FAO, 2015). Not only does the actual food go to waste, also think of all the energy, land, water, seeds and labour that is lost!

 

 

The idea of organizing a protest soup was soon picked up by the Slow Food Youth Network in Brazil. The Slow Food Youth Network, a non-profit organisation that fights for a more fair and sustainable food system, took on the concept and organized a national Disco Soup Day. The snowball effect that followed caused the World Disco Soup Day to grow out to be one of the biggest internationally organized events that fight food waste and in the extension of that; impacts of climate change.

All over the world, youth addresses the problem of food waste by collecting food that would be wasted but was still perfectly fine to use. Delicious soups were created from the rescued food, and a disco element was added. Because why not celebrate that wasted food actually tastes great, while collectively contributing to the battle against food waste?

 

 

World Disco Soup Day 27th April, 2019

This Kingsday-edition, the collective of organisations that were listed above will dance to the music of DJ Stefnitz, listen to the jokes of MC Benji B and taste the soups made by you, the welcome guests! Join the event and eat the soups, all for free.

To prepare for our kingsday-edition of World Disco Soup Day we need your help and ask you to take part in our #soupchallenge. Share one of your favorite soup recipes and tag #verspillingsvrij #wdsd19 #sfyn #samentegenvoedselverspilling #votewithyourfork #fillbelliesnotbins @sfynamsterdam @slowfoodyouthnetwork @deceuvel @tbyw.  

We recommend you to use as many rescued vegetables as possible and your soup might be the inspiration for the soup of the day at World Disco Soup Day. So: post your recipe, post a photo of the dish and insert the tags and if your soup is chosen, it will be made and served to all the party people at the Ceuvel!  

 

We are super excited for this day full of great, rescued food and dancing. Join use and let’s get wasted!

DIY Environmental Heroïsm! This post will give you the best recipes with the least environmental exploitation, so you can sustainably eat your way to 2050. Be a true hero in the kitchen and try them!

 

The recipes in this post use the guidelines of the planetary health diet that was coined January this year by the Lancet Commission. The Lancet Commission is a group of over 30 scientist that published a report on how we can sustainably feed the estimated 10 billion people that inhabit the planet by 2050. The ideal way to cut greenhouse gas emission and sustain a healthy planet is to leave out animal products such as meat, dairy, fish and eggs as much as possible. Other things to take into account in filling your shopping basket in a sustainable way is to choose seasonal and local products.  More about this you can read in 16th March’ blog post: the Sustainable Future Diet.

 

The recipes represent some beautiful products which have a high score regarding environmental performance. The calculation of environmental performance considers: the use of fossil fuels, contribution to climate change (Co2- emission), land use and waterstress. Enjoy!

 

#1 Purple soup

 

The star of the show is the red cabbage, creating an amazing purple-coloured soup. Traditionally used in the Dutch cuisine as a side dish with apple and cloves to pair with mashed potato (we’re a simple people 😉 ), this time prepared as a fresh soup that requires very little ingredients and is easy to make! The vinegar brings out an amazing zinginess and the apple uplifts the soup with its fresh, sweet flavour. Don’t be afraid to use too much (preferably freshly crushed) black pepper!

Ingredients (serves four):

  • 1 red cabbage, roughly chopped. Grown on farmland in the Netherlands, energy-use for production is low. 
  • 1 large apple, cut in cubes. Apples, either from Argentina, Brazil or Chile, are grown on farmland and shipped per boat, to keep emissions low.
  • 2 red onions, roughly chopped
  • 200 ml plant-based milk.  I used almond milk but oat- or soy milk will do too. Go for the unsweetened one. Almond milk scores low in kg emissions per 200 ml glass, and low in land use but relatively high in water use. Soy and oat milk have the lowest environmental impact. (Poore & Nemecek, 2018)
  • 400 ml vegetable stock
  • 50 ml vinegar.   I used balsamic vinegar but apple cider vinegar does the job as well. Use what you have in your cupboard.
  • salt
  • black pepper
  •  2 tablespoons oil

Cooking method:

Heat the oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Once the oil is hot, add the onion and cabbage. Add salt and pepper and keep stirring. Add the apple. Put the lid on for 3 minutes to let the ingredients soften. Add some more pepper. Next up we’ll add the liquids. Add vinegar and vegetable stock to the saucepan and stir until everything infuses. Then add the almond milk and stir. Now leave the lid on for another 15 minutes until the cabbage is soft. Depending on how small you cut the cabbage it will cook faster. Once the cabbage is soft, Use a blender or hand-held blender to blend everything. Optionally, add green leaves (cress works well) and a dash of almond milk to garnish. Enjoy!

#2 Sweet potato and dark, leafy green vegetable mash with vegan gravy and roasted hazelnuts

 

Another super easy, impossible-to-go-wrong, nutritious recipe. The gravy is incredibly flavoursome and together with the roasted nuts makes up for a full, hearty meal.

 

Ingredients (serves four):

  • 1 kg sweet potato. Sweet potato comes from the US. However, as it is grown on farmland and shipped by boat, the environmental footprint remains low.
  • 400 gr winter purslane/spinach/turnip tops. Pick the greens you like! Winter purslane and turnip tops aren’t your regular vegetables but that gives you all the more reason to try! In April they are in season in the Netherlands and they give an amazing nutty, fresh taste to your vegetable mash and have great health benefits.
  • 100 gr hazelnuts, roasted and chopped. Out of all the nuts the hazelnut and walnut are the most environmentally sustainable as they are sourced in Europe, from the Mediterranean area (Turkey, Spain, Italy) (Source: https://www.aboutnuts.com/nl/encyclopedie/hazelnoten/)
  • 200 ml almond milk. 
  • 50 gr plant-based margarine
  • 2 tablespoons oil

The gravy:

  • 1 onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely diced
  • 3 tablespoons corn starch/flour
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 6 tablespoons water
  • 1 tablespoon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon (smoked) paprikapowder
  • 1 teaspoon ginger powder
  • 1 teaspoon corianderseed, crushed
  • ½  teaspoon curcuma
  • ½ teaspoon pepper

Cooking method:

Roast the nuts in a dry pan over medium heat. Whirl them around until the skin darkens on all sides. Turn off the heat and set aside to cool down.

 

Peel the sweet potatoes and cut them into chunks (Zero Waste Tip: wash the skin before you peel it and deep fry the peeled skins. Let cool until they are crispy and enjoy them as a pre-cooking snack!). Boil the sweet potatoes in a large pot with plenty of water and some salt. Once the water is cooking, set the timer at 15 minutes.

 

Meanwhile, prepare the gravy by heating oil in a small saucepan. Add the finely cut garlic and onion and let the onion/garlic juices induce in the oil on low heat. Once the onion/garlic start changing color, add little bits of the water. Then, add the cornstarch/flour and stir well for about 3 minutes. The sauce will now thicken slowly. Add more water if it gets too thick, add more cornstarch if the sauce is too thin. Add the rest of the ingredients while stirring, until it has the desire thickness. Add more salt/pepper to taste.

 

Once the sweet potatoes are cooked (check with a fork), drain the pan and keep a little bit of the starchy cooking water aside. Add the margarine and almond milk to the drained sweet potatoes. Mash the potatoes. Add your greens while mashing the potatoes more. Add some of the starchy draining water until it has reached the desired creaminess. Heat on a low heat while stirring; once there are no more lumps of potato it’s finished. Serve, put the gravy on top, add the roasted nuts and optionally top with mustard. Enjoy!

 

#3 Cauliflower and tempeh curry

 

The cauliflower is a true hero: it’s so versatile and tastes great. Here’s an exotic curry to warm you up on the rainy days that might linger throughout April. Tempeh is a product made of fermented soy beans and serves as an amazing, nutritious, protein-rich alternative for meat. In this recipe the tempeh is marinated to perfection and with its crunchy bite it’s the best sidekick of the warming, soft and creamy cauliflower curry.

 

Ingredients (serves four):

  • 1 cauliflower, cut into roses. Produced in France on farmland and transported by truck which leaves a relatively low environmental footprint
  • 500 gr potato, cubed. 
  • 2 onions, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely diced
  • 2×2 cm block ginger, finely diced
  • 200 gr tomato puree
  • 1 can coconut milk
  •  1 block (400gr) tempeh
  • 400 ml vegetable stock
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 2 tablespoons currypowder
    • Make it yourself by mixing:2 tablespoons cumin2 tablespoons corianderseeds2 tablespoons curcumapowder

      1 ½ tablespoon cardemompowder

      ½ tablespoon cinnamon powder

      ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper

      optional: ½ teaspoon chili powder

The marinade:

  • Soy sauce sweet
  • Soy sauce regular
  • 1 tablespoon sunflower oil
  • ½ tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon tomato puree
  • 1 tablespoon agave/rice syrup. You can make your own sugar sirup by mixing 1 tablespoon of sugar with some water, and heating this in a saucepan on low heat. Stir until the sugar dissolves
  • ½ teaspoon paprika powder
  • ½ teaspoon cumin powder
  • 1 clove garlic, finely diced
  • chili flakes, add to taste

Cooking method:

Start with the marinade. Cut the tempeh in slices of about ½ cm thick. Mix all the ingredients of the marinade together in a flat-surface tray or plate. put the tempeh in there and mix it around. Set aside in the fridge. Set it for at least 30 minutes. The longer you leave it, the better the flavours will marinade.

 

Heat oil in a pan and add the onion, garlic and ginger. Slowly let the base induce in the oil. Add the currypowder and stir well. If it sticks to the bottom of the pan, add little bits of water. Add the tomato puree and stir well. Now add the cauliflower and potato and stir until they are covered in the mix. Add the vegetable stock and the can of coconut milk. bring it to a boil and let it simmer on a low heat for about 30 minutes. All the vegetables should be covered in liquid. If not, add more water.

 

While the curry is simmering, take the tempeh out of the fridge. Heat oil in a frying pan. Wait until the oil is hot, then add the tempeh. Fry on both sides for a few minutes, until the marinade turns brown and the tempeh gets crunchy.

 

Once the curry is finished, serve it, put the tempeh on top and garnish with fresh koriander or any other fresh herbs, to taste. Enjoy!

 

#4 Key Lime Pie

 

We couldn’t leave the dessert out, of course. In April, the lime usually originates from Brazil, where the Brazilian sun worked it’s magic before it was shipped to Europe by boat which leaves the environmental footprint to remain low. We’ll use this lovely citrus fruit to make the soft filling that goes over the Lotus-cookie crust and together make an amazing key lime pie. All vegan!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ingredients (serves twelve):

Crust:

  • pack vegan biscuits. I used Lotus Biscoff biscuits because it has this ginger-cookie flavour which is the best.
  • 120 gram vegan butter, melted. 
  • 3 tablespoons coconut oil

Filling:

  • 1 tin coconut milk
  • Zest of 2 limes (unwaxed)
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • 220 ml almond milk
  • 6 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 6 tablespoons icing sugar

Optional, to garnish:

  • coconut flakes
  • lime zest

Cooking method:

Preheat the oven at 180°C. Start with the crust. Put the biscuits in the food processor. Slowly add the melted butter. Finally add the coconut oil. Take the mixture and put it in a greased, round baking tray, preferably with a loose bottom. Press evenly until it covers the entire tray. Put the tray in the middle of the over for about 12 minutes.

 

Warm the tin of coconut milk over a low heat in a saucepan. Add the juice and zest of 2 limes. Let it warm up over a very low heat, to let the flavours infuse gradually. In the meantime, mix the almond milk with the icing sugar in a container. Add the cornstarch and whisk it together until smooth. Add it to the saucepan and stir while it warms up. The cornstarch will thicken the mixture as it warms. Turn the heat off when it has reached the desired thickness.

 

Take the baking tray out of the oven. Add the mixture to the tray. Cover it with cling film, directly over the filling. Leave it to set in the fridge for at least 3 hours. Garnish with lime zest or coconut flakes. Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sources:

  • Poore, J., Nemecek, T. (2018) Reducing food’s environmental impacts through producers and consumers. Science  01 Jun 2018: Vol. 360, Issue 6392, pp. 987-992.
  • https://www.aboutnuts.com/nl/encyclopedie/hazelnuts/. Retrieved at 02/04/2019

 

© Nancy Standlee

Today was a good day. I ate the leftovers from yesterday’s pie, yum! still delicious! I didn’t throw out or waste any food, well only the orange peels from this morning’s breakfast. So, for today my food waste CO2 emissions are low, so tonight I’ll have sweet waste free dreams! XoX

Let me explain. A couple of weeks back, while I was researching on food waste related topics, I came across ‘The Food Waste Calculator for households’ (FAO, 2013). This initiative is part of the European Week for Waste Reduction (EWWR) which usually takes place in the last week of November each year. Now, I didn’t really want to wait eight months to write about this, so I decided to go ahead and fill my food waste diary for seven days.

It turned out to be a pretty simple thing to do. I downloaded the excel file from the EWWR website, I read though the instructions and filled in my details. After that I started to keep track of my food waste. All I needed was a balance to weigh the food waste, and a piece of paper to list the weight daily. I would then enter the information in the excel file under the appropriate cell, either leftovers or spoiled food. This would add up to my weekly food waste (mine came to 2.2 Kg), and then converted in its CO2 equivalent. It also compared me my CO2 equivalent of my food waste per year with the climate compatible annual emissions budget per person.

These are my results:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s a bit silly but I was a little annoyed at the beginning that the numbers were so low, I really wanted to have a bigger discovery at the end of the week-long experiment. It turns out I’m pretty good at avoiding waste (for that one particular week), most of the food waste was unavoidable i.e. fruit and vegetable peels. There was only one sad savoy cabbage promised for delicious vegan kimchi that went bad before I could even try, oh well!

This was a truly uncomplicated way to become more aware of household food waste at the most localised personal level. However, the issue of food waste is a global one which extends beyond the individual and involves multiple agents; governments, businesses, and producers. Globally it is estimated that a third of the food produced for human consumption is lost or wasted through production process and after consumption (FAO,2013). The quantification of this loss and waste is essential to adequately reduce and avoid wastage of food as well as the waste of natural resources in production.

In 2013, FAO coined the term ‘Food Wastage Footprint’ in order to calculate the environmental and social costs associated with natural resource loss and environmental degradation (FAO, 2013). In this case, food wastage specifically refers to any food lost by deterioration or discard, thus the term “wastage” encompasses both food loss and food waste.

 

“The Food Wastage Footprint (FWF) project… calculates the impact of food wastage on natural resources such as water, land and biodiversity. This includes the natural resources used across the food chain, from growing to distributing food which is finally not eaten, the impact of food wastage disposal on natural resources, and the impact of GHG emissions from food wastage on the atmosphere.”  –  (FAO, Food wastage footprint Impact on natural resources Summary report, 2013)

 

Once the parallels between landfills overflowing with edible food, and malnourished communities on separate parts of the globe were drawn, the issue of food wastage was impossible to ignore (FAO, 2013). Studies were carried out, which showed us that one-third of all food produced for human consumption if wasted, and this is costing 1 trillion USD out of our pockets each year. (FAO, 2014) Still, these high figures overlook the total cost of food wastage; economic, social and environmental. That is where The Food Wastage Footprint comes in.

KNOW.

The Food Wastage Footprint provides a more complete and accurate understanding of the food supply chain. As it unveils hidden environmental and social costs and provides a clear illustration of any distortions within the global food system (FAO, 2014). It also heightens and improves our knowledge of the implications of our food production and consumption patterns.

ENUMERATE.

The Food Wastage Footprint does this by monetizing unpriced natural resources such as land, water, air, ecosystems, and biodiversity, along with the related ecosystem services. Usually natural resources are prey to the Tragedy of the commons’, a concept which Willian Foster Lloyd wrote about back in 1833, it loosely states that resources which are freely accessible are depleted through self-interest over-consumption for short-term gain (Vugt, 2009). By going beyond market pricing, the Food Wastage Footprint incorporates societal welfare costs related to the loss of natural resources.

MITIGATE.

The Food Wastage Footprint therefore serves as a powerful tool for effective mitigation of global food waste. It equips us with a thorough understanding of food wastage at different levels (global, national, local), and the role of various agents (producers & consumers). This is necessary as only by knowing exactly what, where, and how can we successfully reduce food waste and design targeted measures (Fao, 2013).

 

In its study FAO provides calculations for prominent social and environmental costs of food wastage, these are also broken down by geographical region, commodity (cereals, meat, fruit, & vegetables), and phases of the global food supply chain (FAO, 2014). Its findings highlight that in addition to the USD 1 trillion of economic costs per year, environmental costs reach around USD 700 billion and social costs amount to USD 900 billion.

 

 

Some of the most notable findings include;

  • 3.5 Gt CO2e of greenhouse gas emissions. Based on the social cost of carbon, these are estimated to cause USD 394 billion of damages per year.
  • Increased water scarcity, particularly for dry regions and seasons. Globally, this is estimated to cost USD 164 billion per year.
  • Soil erosion due to water is estimated to cost USD 35 billion per year through nutrient loss, lower yields, biological losses and off-site damages. The cost of wind erosion may be of a similar magnitude.
  • Risks to biodiversity including the impacts of pesticide use, nitrate and phosphorus eutrophication, pollinator losses and fisheries overexploitation are estimated to cost USD 32 billion per year.
  • Increased risk of conflict due to soil erosion, estimated to cost USD 396 billion per year.
  • Loss of livelihoods due to soil erosion, estimated to cost USD 333 billion per year.
  • Adverse health effects due to pesticide exposure, estimated to cost USD 153 billion per year.

Source:  FAO, Food wastage footprint Full-cost accounting Final Report, 2014

 

 Key global environmental impacts of food wastage by regions

[Values in million tonnes wastage, millions ha land occupation, million tonnes GHG emissions, and km3 water use, all on the same axis.]

Source: FAO, Food wastage footprint Full-cost accounting Final Report, 2014

 

The Food Wastage Footprint highlights the sheer magnitude of the global food waste problem through valuing our ecosystems, the commons and all related invaluable services they provide. This is not an attempt to put a price tag on nature but rather these calculations allow prioritising actions and defining opportunities for various actor’s contribution to resolving this global challenge (FAO,2013) . However we may choose to look at it, reducing food wastage makes sense economically, environmentally and socially. It also raises the question that, with increasing world population, higher standards of living and limited natural resources, are the costs of food wastage something we can really afford?

 

P.S. For our readers, we encourage you to participate and fill in YOUR food waste diary and feel free to let us know how it went!

Sources

FAO. (2013). Food wastage footprint Impact on natural resources Summary report.

Fao. (2013). Toolkit reducing the food wastage footprint. 

FAO. (2014). Food wastage footprint Full-cost accounting Final Report. 

Fao. (2014). Mitigation of societal costs and benefits of food waste.

Vugt, M. V. (2009). Averting the Tragedy of the Commons

How will we sustainably feed 10 billion mouths by 2050? That was the question we asked ourselves during the Wasteless Culture Monday the fourth of March; one of the weekly events that Taste Before You Waste (TBYW) organizes. A TBYW volunteer presented the broader subject of our future food system in relation to  its’ connection with consumers’ dietary habits with the overall aim of both informing and providing a platform for discussion about the ‘sustainable future diet’.

Gerelateerde afbeelding

© NextGen Policy

Questions that were addressed during the presentation and group discussion included; is there a way to feed 10 billion people by 2050? And if so, how can we establish that without exploiting the planet even more? What environmentally sustainable choices can we make? How do you create a large-scale shift in diet?

 

In accordance with the philosophy of Taste Before You Waste, the event provided insight into the  role that the bottom-up movement plays in the wider context. It addressed the responsibility that us, as individuals, have for the health of the planet. And, the things we can do on a daily basis to maintain a healthy planet. One thing we learnt is that as consumers, we can have a massive influence on climate goals by making changes to our eating habits. However, the path towards it is an inherently complex one. For instance: we all know we should eat a little less meat. However, it remains a controversial subject to discuss. Eating culture is such an emotional one after all. We have however done the best we can to leave you with some new insights and ideas on how to change your diet into sustainable one: good for your and the planet’s health.

 

The problem

Our current food system is failing. Population is growing on a planet on which resources are exhausted, causing a risk of failure to meet the dietary needs of all these people. All the processes and infrastructures that are required to feed the population are threatening the stability of the climate and resilience of the ecosystems. In other words: The food system goes beyond the planetary boundaries, irreversibly damaging the environment (Willet, W et al, 2019). Whether you are familiar with Taste Before You Waste, who actively commits to tackling this problem, or not, this is a problem that addresses not only ourselves but future generations.

 

Food has the potential to be a powerful lever to optimize human health and environmental sustainability on earth. However, food is currently threatening both people and planet. The rise of the middle class the previous century in Europe and North America, and currently in Asia, coupled with urbanization has driven a transition from traditional diets to diets that contain large amounts of refined sugar, animal protein and fats. This is the exact diet that will cause an estimated 80% of increase in greenhouse emissions by 2050 (Tilman & Clark, 2014).

 

Consumers as part of the solution

The depressing part is over now. The problem may seem overwhelming, there are however solutions! By now, there is a lot of scientific evidence that emphasises the link between diets and environmental sustainability. Unfortunately, this has not yet resulted in large scale policy that works to transform the global food system. Until early this year, when EAT-Lancet, a commission of 37 scientist from sixteen different countries, published a report to set the first steps towards such goals and ways to achieve them. On the consumption end of the global food system there are improvements that should be made that basically entail; making a shift to a largely plant-based diet (Willet et al, 2019). The less animal protein is consumed, the better for the environment. So: in the future sustainable diet, fruits, vegetables, nuts, grains and legumes (chickpeas, beans, peanuts etc.) are at the core and should, according to the authors of the report, be doubled in global consumption. The consumption of red meat should be cut in half (Willet et al, 2019).

 

What can YOU do?

There are several things you, as a consumer, can do to contribute to both physical and planetary health. First of all, we can agree that cutting down on meat is a rather controversial subject, due to multiple reasons. Not everyone can cut down meat straight away, and for many cultures meat is deeply ingrained in the diet. We can not expect everyone to cut down on meat cold turkey (😉): therefore here follow some tips on how to be be as environmentally sustainable as possible while still eating meat.

 

The sustainable meat-eater

The first thing you can do is choose wisely. Lamb and beef are by far the greatest creators of greenhouse gas: to produce one kilo of beef, 27 kgs of greenhouse gases are emitted. Lamb ranks first in the list, emitting 39.2 kgs of greenhouse gases The better choice would be to eat pork (12.1 kgs) or chicken (6.9 kgs). Chicken also needs very little space and can be fed more efficiently than cows: chickens need about 2kgs of feed to get 1kg of meat. Cows need 30kgs of feed for the same amount of meat! (Olthuis, L., 26th Jan. 2019. Slopen mijn boodschappen de wereld? | De Volkskrant. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G6ISYyZN0qI&t=290s)

 

To give you an idea of the difference with plant-based protein-rich foods: the carbon footprint of many legumes rank very low on the list. Black beans emit 2.0kgs of greenhouse gases and lentils are the ultimate winner with 0.9kgs of greenhouse gas emission. Surprisingly, per serving black beans and lentils contain more protein than a serving of beef! (Bohrer, 2017) But then; what about dairy and eggs? They rank somewhere in the middle: the Co2 equivalent for cheese is 13.5 kgs and eggs 4.8 kgs. So: a vegetarian diet would be a step in the right direction. A final tip for decreasing pressure on the environment when you still want to eat meat: choose local! Imported meat impacts the environment with greenhouse gases that are emitted in the process, therefore meat from the local farm is the better option.

Various assortment of legumes - beans, soy beans, chickpeas, lentils, green peas. Healthy eating concept. Vegetable proteins. Dark concrete background copy space top view banner format

Choose local

However, if we really want to sustainably feed 10 billion mouths in 2050, we need to stick to the plant-based diet. Another important thing to keep in mind while doing this, is to choose locally. The closer to home; the less energy-use in transportation. Tropical products cost a lot of energy to get to Europe, especially when they are flown in. Choose products that are shipped in.

Choose seasonal

Another, maybe even more important aspect to consider in buying your fruit ‘n veg’ is seasonality. Buying strawberries from the Netherlands in March gets the lowest score on the sustainability-ranking. You’d best get them from Spain in this month, as the energy cost from growing them in a greenhouse in the Netherlands is much higher compared to sun-grown strawberries from Spain, even considering the environmental costs of transportation (March 2019, retrieved from: https://groentefruit.milieucentraal.nl/milieuscore-van-groente-en-fruit/)

 

It sounds like quite a lot to comprehend, I know. To make things easier, here’s a helpful tool in checking what to buy and what not to buy. Milieucentraal developed a fruits- and vegetables calendar where you can check how environmentally friendly a product is in each season. Check out https://groentefruit.milieucentraal.nl/ to see what the best products are to buy considering the use of fossil fuels, contribution to climate change, land use and water stress. So leave those blueberries and raspberries for what they are in November, and enjoy them when the sun decides that they are ready to be grown locally. Taste the season!

© Stichting Permacultuur Advies

The sustainable plant-based diet: check your waste

Finally, needless to say it is a good move to reduce your food waste to be more environmentally sustainable at home. First of all: check the fridge! What do you have and how can you and your creative brain prepare a meal with what you already have? Secondly, measure the quantities of how much you need or freeze in what you can’t have. It might seem like no-brainers, but considering the fact that a European households on average waste about 4 kilograms a week (Quested & Johnson 2009;), there is much room for progress!

 

Conclusion

No sugar coating when it comes to the future of our food system: it is failing, it has irreversibly damaged the planet’s ecosystems and will do so in the future if big changes will not happen soon. That’s the bad news. The good news is, we have a choice, and the privilege to make an educated decision about how we choose to deal with problems that address all of us, and our common future. Shifting our diets to a more plant-based one seems like a good place to start towards a sustained planet that inhabits 10 billion people by 2050. You, too can contribute to the health of the planet by shifting your diet to a more plant-based one, choosing local and seasonal products, shop smart and use what you have at home so that you don’t have to throw anything away. It sounds like a lot, but all small bitAfbeeldingsresultaat voor shopping basket vegans help, and remember: we don’t need a few people to do it perfectly, we need everyone to do it imperfectly.

Coincidentally, this blog is posted during the National Meatless week (https://weekzondervlees.nl/) in the Netherlands. Comment below to share your opinion and ideas! Do you think a large-scale shift in diets is possible? And if so, how? How do you make sure you keep yourself in and the planet in good health with the things you put in your shopping basket? Keep an eye out for the coming blogs, as a bunch of recipes will follow where the planetary health diet can be put into practice!

 

 

References:

  • Bohrer, B. (2017). Review: Nutrient density and nutritional value of meat products and non-meat foods high in protein.
  • Quested T, Johnson H. (2009) Household food and drink waste in the UK. wrap. Banbury UK. 2009. ISBN:1-84405-430-6
  • Tilman, D. And Clark, M (2014). Global diets link environmental sustainability and human health. Nature, International Journal of Science. Volume 515, pages 518–52
  • Willet, W. et al. (2019). Food in the Anthropocene: the EAT–Lancet Commission on healthy diets from sustainable food systems. The Lancet Commissions. Volume 393, Issue 10170,  pages 447-492.

 

When looking at the way we organize our meals, most of us follow a day-to-day or meal-by-meal logic. While such irregularities have a series of affects on our daily rhythm, this blog post focuses on another seemingly small but still relevant symptom: the waste of food produced due to a lack of planning.

As hunter-gatherers of the 21st century, we daily cross the grocery store, become enthralled by aesthetics or hunger and snatch all these fresh beauties. Sometimes other unanticipated tasks pop up or the laziness kicks in and the meal is not being prepared. Not a problem, the food will still be good the next day. But what about all the other days to come? How can we make sure that the goodies in our fridge and cupboards are not going bad that quickly? How can we plan more efficiently so that as little as possible – or in the best case nothing – goes to waste?

As a food surplus organization we engage with these questions on a daily basis. In doing so, we are always eager to learn and brainstorm with our fellows in the search for best practices, be it through workshops, lectures or panel discussions. Zoe, one of our hosting coordinators, therefore set up a workshop series consisting of three sessions to identify better food surplus management. The first workshop engaged with the question of how to treat your foods appropriately to postpone present symptoms of spoiling. Zoe worked out different guiding themes that play a relevant role in the according planning, and allocated the themes to the workshop tables in the first session. Each group of participants was invited to discuss ideas related to their table theme, followed by a plenary session on more general ideas and know-how from the audience. We were surprised by the many ideas that were brought to the tables, mostly household insider tips and some good old grandma tricks.

In the following you can find an overview of these tips and tricks: 

 

  1. Daily physical check

Check what is in stock: Take a photo or write a list of fridge contents. This helps to avoid buying doubles or unnecessary foodies, which eventually end up in your trash bin.

  1. Supplements

Make a shopping list of things that would complement your stock. For example, use sticky notes or download one of these modern grocery shopping apps!

  1. Resistance

Stay strong towards marketing strategies from supermarkets; don’t give in to ‘buy one and get one for free’ if it doesn’t serve your own consumption well. Also, don’t go grocery shopping when you’re hungry, which definitely ends up in steering your choices according to the momentary craving for food.

  1. Tailor-made care

Bread: Always keep your bread in paper, never in plastic, and in a dry, dark place instead of the fridge. It will most likely not mold. Moreover, think of ways to process it once it is not fresh and soft anymore. For example, cut slices and put them in the freezer, every time you crave bread you can portion what you need.

Leafy greens, spring onion, leek, and herbs: But them in a glass with water or roll them into a wet towel and but them in the fridge. It keeps them alive like a flower, and it might even keep growing a bit. Alternatively, chop herbs before they go bad and fill them into an ice cube tray with a bit of oil, this way you can always add a dose when you cook and need it.

Bananas, avocados, tomatoes, apples, citrus fruits, peaches, apricots, and nectarines: Keep them outside of the fridge in a dry place; they will keep their taste and durability.

Potatoes and carrots: If possible, keep them in a pot of earth or sand in a dry and dark place, or leave them dirty, they like that!

Most other delicate veggies and fruit like mushroom, broccoli, cherries and berries: These need respectful and delicate treatment, most suitable in the fridge (or freezer, if you want to keep them for later).

  1. Cooling

Also your fridge has different climates, so to say: The coldest spot is at the bottom, which makes it the perfect storing space for veggies (yes, that’s what these plastic drawers are for!) On the top, you can keep your cheese and other foodies that don’t suffer from the minimally higher temperature. In general, keep your raw ingredients at the bottom and away from the cooked food. The door is the warmest area of the fridge, suitable for condiments and juices.

  1. Symbiosis

Vegetables and fruits affect each other’s ripening process when kept in close proximity (they release ethylene gas). For example, ripe bananas will make other fruits and veggies ripen faster, and green apples will make potatoes keep longer. Foods that release ethylene include:

Fruits: Apples, apricots, avocados, bananas, blueberries, cantaloupe, cranberries, figs, honeydew, grapes, mangoes, nectarines, papayas, passion fruits, peaches, pears, persimmons, plums, and prunes.

Vegetables: Green onions and tomatoes.

  1. First In, First Out

Don’t wait until the last moment and organize your fridge so you eat first what went in first.

  1. Measurements

Weigh your dry pasta, rice and grains before cooking to avoid making too much. For an indication, check the packaging or experiment and note down your personal quantity, usually around 50 – 100g dry per person.

  1. Freezer Library

In general, freezers work like a time capsule for fresh food – it locks nutrition and preserves the taste. You can freeze your fruits, coconut milk and curry pastes, as well as cooked meals. Use labels to recognize the icy things in your freezer. Portioning it beforehand will save the hassle to cut frozen food.

Some good old granny tips:

  • When you know you will eat your avocado but it is still too hard, you can wrap it in newspaper and put it in a dry cool place. It should be ready to eat in a day or two. The same goes for bananas.
  • Some say that its better to keep eggs outside of the fridge since it has a natural layer that protects it from going bad. But it depends in which country you live, or if it’s organic or not.
  • When you separate bananas from their bunch, they will continue ripen more slowly.
  • If any of your veggies are looking soggy like carrots or lettuce, soak it in ice-cold water. It will harden it and bring it back to its natural state. Soak flabby salad in ice-cold water right before serving.

We are looking forward to see you at our next sessions!

 

Please note that there are different opinions and perspectives concerning some of the tips we prepared. In most cases, the appropriate treatment depends on factors like temperature, durability and moisture. Try out for yourself and note down what works best in your case. Also, please feel free to comment and share your feedback and tips with us!


At Taste Before You Waste we recognise that individual impact and commitment to the healthy and sustainable future of the planet comes in many forms. And one of the most important ways to have an influence closer to home is to use your vote to bring into political power parties and individuals that are committed to a sustainable future. Whether you have already decided where to cast your vote, or are still weighing up your options, information is key! So we have searched the manifestos of all the parties participating in Amsterdam’s 2018 municipal elections so you can check your party’s green policies, or be inspired by the innovations of others.

The vast majority of parties have reaffirmed a commitment to the Sustainability Agenda set out by the municipality in 2015, which centred around the five main areas of energy, air quality, a circular economy, flooding and the sustainability of the municipal organisation itself. The most important aims included an improvement in green energy (through energy saving in homes and companies, as well the encouragement of energy-neutral building) and the commitment to only having emission-free, or vehicles that are as clean as possible driving in the city in 2025. The agenda also set a goal of 65% of household waste being separated for useful reuse by 2020, and the municipality itself reducing its CO2 emissions to 45% less than they were in 2012 by 2025. Almost all parties also noted that they wanted to reduce unnecessary bureaucracy that prevents people from making a positive contribution to their environment.

Below we have highlighted not only where the parties have talked about going above and beyond the aims laid out in the Sustainability Agenda, but also the innovative and original green policies they have come up with to keep the city of Amsterdam sustainable for generations to come.

 

 GroenLinks (GL)

Jumping out of GroenLinks’ manifesto, which (as expected) contains a very healthy commitment to green issues, is their opposition to the plans for Lelystad Airport. Believing that the expansion plans for the airport are bad for the climate and air quality as well as the peace of local residents they propose to prevent the expansion through Amsterdam’s position as co-owner of Schiphol Airport. They will use this shareholding, as well as the city’s other shareholdings in the port and the Afval Energie Bedrijf (the company converting waste into energy) to bring more attention to corporate social responsibility.

Not stopping at a commitment to emission-free vehicles in Amsterdam, the party want to make the city centre entirely car free in an effort to reduce vehicle emissions in the city. They will also tackle the gas problem by taking entire districts off gas, transitioning them to green energy one at a time. And in an appeal to organisations like our own, GroenLinks have said that they will join forces with the growing, green, social movement of grassroots sustainable initiatives and circular companies.

Read more about their plans here: https://amsterdam.groenlinks.nl/sites/groenlinks.nl/files/downloads/page/Verkiezingsprogramma%202018-2022.pdf

 

Democraten 66 (D66)

Largely based around decentralizing systems so that more power is given to individuals and neighbourhoods to create a greener Amsterdam, D66 have a few notable green policies that stand out from the other parties. On the energy question, D66 have noted that since there will be an increased reliance on electricity as the city is weaned off natural gas, they will investigate the introduction of neighbourhood batteries to provide local sources and storage of green energy.

Again, in aiming to give more power to the individual, D66 wants tenants and residents of floors without their own roof to be given the opportunity to install solar panels on their buildings. They also want to make the existing Sustainability Fund more available to informal groups – people who want to make a small investment to buy double glazing for their street for instance.

In terms of moving to a more circular economy that decreases waste, D66 have focused on building. They propose that materials that are easily stored during demolition work must be recorded in a public database, which would allow builders to estimate which materials already available for circular construction. 

Read more about their plans here: https://verkiezingsprogramma.d66.nl/amsterdam/programma/duurzaamheid-en-luchtkwaliteit/

 

 Vokspartij voor Vrijheid en Democratie (VVD)

Though VVD have put a focus on improving public transport in the city to cope with the rising population, they stress that car transportation will remain a part of Amsterdam. To this end they want to add more parking spaces in the city (preferably underground) to free up space for pedestrians and cyclists. Residents with over-polluting cars, however, will not be able to receive a new parking permit and the VVD will provide financial support to help residents make the transition to cleaner vehicles.

The VVD also wants to convert the existing municipality sustainability fund into a public-private organisation that includes business and residents working together to a clean, liveable, and sustainable Amsterdam. They believe that this will encourage innovative initiatives from citizens and businesses and contribute to research focused, tailor-made solutions for Amsterdam.

In terms of waste reduction, in the long term the VVD wants to move towards a system where everyone pays for the amount of waste that they throw away, to encourage people to think about reuse and waste separation – though seeming like a strong move against waste production, the SP’s position that this will lead to Amsterdammers dumping their waste in public spaces should be held in mind.

Read more about their plans here: https://www.vvdamsterdam.nl/uploaded/www.vvdamsterdam.nl/files/5a534c1a3f989/vvdverkiezingsprogrammadurfenoptimisme.pdf

 

Partij van de Arbeid (PvdA)

The PvdA are very keen to encourage local sustainable energy cooperatives, working together with neighbouring municipalities to do this as efficiently and effectively as possible. They also specify their commitment to green roofs – making half of our flat roofs green or full of solar panels by 2025 (the equivalent space to 600 football pitches!).

In terms of energy, the PvdA have noted that the imminent closing of the coal-fired Hemweg power station will leave 200 employees without work, and they want to examine renewable alternatives that would give these employees a direct, green alternative to their current employment, helping them get back to work as soon as possible. As more windmills come to supply the city with renewable energy, residents will be invited to take a share in this and themselves profit from the profit, with the hope that will increase feelings of ownership and support.

One of the only parties to talk about diet as a factor of sustainability, they will promote a diet with less animal products and more vegetables due to the pressure that meat production puts on the environment – trying to make eating healthily afforadable for everyone.

Read more about their plans here: https://amsterdam2018.pvda.nl/downloads/PvdA_Verkiezingsprogramma_Amsterdam_2018.pdf

 

Socialistische Partij (SP)

The SP join others in promoting significant green action. Rather than waiting for individuals and corporations, they want to put solar panels on unused roofs themselves. Alongside this they want to create a system where those who have no solar panels or green roofs where it is possible to do so will be fined. They also want to approach all Amsterdammers via a municipal energy saving company that will invest in the sustainability of housing corporations and private individuals. They will make proposals to individuals to make their homes mores sustainable, with the municipality taking over the energy and sharing the energy savings with the homeowner.

Straying from the VVD’s position they are opposed to charging a fee for the quantity of waste handed in by individuals as they think that, in practice, this will lead to many Amsterdammers dumping their waste in public spaces.

Looking to big business, the SP also wants to use its shareholding in Schiphol airport to put an end to the many flights that result from the use of the airport as a kerosene hub. They will also not renew a contract with ING because of their climate-unfriendly investment policy, instead looking for a more sustainable and ethical home banker.

Read more about their plans here: https://amsterdam.sp.nl/standpuntenlijst/duurzaamheid

 

Forum voor Democratie (FvD)

The FvD have not put out a statement with any specific green policies and they recently released an article which argues that solar panels are not economically viable in Amsterdam.

Read about their policies here: ttps://amsterdam.fvd.nl/standpunten

 

Partij voor de Dieren (PvdD)

With a tag line of ‘from ego-centred to eco-centred’, the PvdD certainly state their firm commitment to a greener Amsterdam. They particularly focus on the green spaces in Amsterdam – wanting to increase them to help Amsterdam become more resistant to the flooding that will inevitably come along with climate change. One way of doing this is through connecting nature areas through the existing ‘Nature Network Netherlands’ which in turn increases biodiversity. They also propose an infrastructural solution to flooding in the city – wanting to replace the sewerage system in 2022 to cope with the increased precipitation.

They also point out that the energy loan which is now available to Amsterdammers (which helps individuals make their homes more sustainable) was the implementation of an initiative proposed by the PvdD.

Read more about their plans here: https://amsterdam.partijvoordedieren.nl/dossiers

 

DENK

Credit must be given to DENK, a party only formed in 2015 after splitting off from PvdA, for including such a detailed and extensive green policy in their manifesto. They note that they are not only promoting their green agenda for the good of Amsterdammers, but because the activities of the Netherlands disproportionately create environmental pressure in other parts of the world, especially in developing countries. To this end they are calling for companies that contribute to the demolition of developing countries to be named and shamed.

DENK also points out their concern that the target of 14% sustainable energy in the Netherlands by 2020 (that was set out in an energy agreement in 2013) will not be met. They also, however, think that that target was far too low to begin with. Their alternative objectives will give preference to sun and wind energy with targets of 40% clean energy by 2030 and `100% by 2050. They hope to achieve this through increased taxation of dirty energy and fuel and an improvement of infrastructure and subsidies to make as many homes as possible energy-neutral.

Special mention must also be given to DENK as the only party to put the reduction of food waste as a specific topic of their manifesto – hoping to remove unnecessary rules so that good food is no longer thrown away and encouraging companies to make agreements with charities on food surpluses. In Amsterdam they say that they will support local residents in their green initiatives helping to provide neighbourhoods with vegetable gardens and urban farming as well as making municipal land that is not being used available for green projects.

Read more about their plans here: https://www.bewegingdenk.nl/amsterdam

 

Christen-Democratisch Appèl (CDA)

The CDA do not have an extensive green policy, but note that they want big cities to sit down with the national government, institutional investors, housing corporations and other parties to jointly commit to a plan of action for building sufficiently sustainable, energy-efficient family homes. They also want to encourage cycling in the city and to manage the traffic circulation on the basis of current air pollution figures.

Read more about their plans here: https://d2vry01uvf8h31.cloudfront.net/Afdelingen/Noord_Holland/Amsterdam/2017/2018%20Stadsmanifest%20CDA-G5.pdf

 

Bij1 

Bij1, along with DENK, are another party to mention their commitment to green policies to aid those in the global south. They take a hard line against companies with poor sustainability records – dissolving all ties with those who cannot meet the highest green standards.

They are also committed to biodiversity, wanting to promote afforestation and phasing out chemical pesticides and herbicides. They also are the only party to mention green education – promoting climate justice as a topic in schools and encouraging children to think about sustainability.

Read more about their plans here: https://amsterdam.bij1.org/programma/ 

 

Partij van de Ouderen (PvdO)

The PvdO have not put out a statement with any specific green policies.

50+

The 50+ party have not put out a statement with any specific green policies.

 ChristenUnie (CU)

The ChristenUnie have stated their commitment to a sustainable Amsterdam, and noted the municipality’s important role to play in achieving this. They are promoting cars without emissions and energy-neutral homes as the norm and have committed to the responsible handling of space and landscape in the Netherlands.

‘A lot of times people question whether we even need feminism anymore,’ Tammy Sheldon tells me. But, as she goes on to articulate persuasively, ‘There is simple logic and clear data that indicates that we are a long way from equality in the Netherlands. And that’s not just referring to a pay gap, or to sexual harassment, there’s a whole range of issues.’

It is, indeed, a whole range of issues that Tammy Sheldon, who last year became lead organiser of Women’s March, The Netherlands (WMNL), cares deeply about. Rushing into our meeting apologising for multitasking on her phone, she was reeling from the news of the death of Orlando Boldewijn, a young, gay, black boy from Rotterdam who had been missing for over a week before police were able to locate his body. It doesn’t take long after our interview for WMNL to issue a statement calling on the government and authorities to prioritize LGBTQI safety in The Netherlands, firmly laying bare the fact that LGBTQI individuals face nearly twice the level of violence that heterosexual people face, whilst sending their support to the victim’s family.

I can tell that this recognition, of the multiple and intersecting issues facing women and minorities in the Netherlands, is not something Tammy takes lightly: ‘the simple attitude we come from is that we are always stronger together. We cannot move forward with any kind of tangible change, unless we’re all in this together.’ Of course, it’s very easy to talk the intersectional talk and much harder to walk the walk. As the Women’s March spread internationally from its origins in the U.S. in the wake of Trump’s election last year it has come up against a wealth of, often valid, criticisms. Too white, too rich and too transphobic have been just some of the accusations thrown at its feet.

Tammy in the middle, on the left organiser Cecilia Gomez Engler of Women’s March Barcelona, and on the right indigenous activist Rachel Heaton, A Standing Rock Water Protector, credits: Tammy Sheldon

Refreshingly, these are not issues that Tammy steps around. ‘By definition, if you are in a position to be an activist you automatically have a degree of privilege,’ she acknowledges, ‘You are in an economic situation that allows you to take time to follow an issue as opposed to hold down three jobs, so by definition the Women’s March is coming out of a large base of white, middle-class women. There is no denying it.’ It is because of this that Tammy stresses that that privilege needs to be used effectively, in order to be useful allies to those less able to go out to a march on a Saturday afternoon and wave a witty sign around. A movement filled with performative activism and void of concrete action is clearly not the kind of future she envisions for the Women’s March in this corner of the world.

That is, of course, the strength but also the difficulty of being a part of such a huge, global movement. In order to cultivate a positive legacy for WMNL there is the challenge of weaving through the stray problematic tendencies that tarnish (and can so easily be used to tarnish) the women’s movement. This has to be done whilst pulling together the thousands of threads that have come together to form a hopefully unbreakable social force, and indeed, to use that force to bring about meaningful change in the Netherlands. The fact that Tammy acknowledges (and rejects) the notion that could be seen to arise with some sectors of the Women’s March across the world – that women’s rights were all of a sudden the most important issue on the agenda and that there hadn’t been protests and activist movements worth attending until the disruptive political events of 2017 – is crucial to the success of WMNL going forward.

At the first march in 2017, credits: Tammy Sheldon

Tammy is quick to point out those who have been fighting against inequality long before this most recent wave of popular activism. Poignantly, she notes that before March for Our Lives (the present marches being organised against gun violence in the US) there have been young black women – in the Black Lives Matter movement particularly – fighting against gun violence for years. ‘Not to take away in any way, shape or form what Emma González and the rest of those teenagers have done – they are just awesome heroes in my book, but it does mean that there is this kind of disappearance of people who are already active, and are often doing so with far greater personal risk to their lives, on a day to day basis.’ Tarana Burke, she points out, has been a case in point, having started and campaigned for the ‘Me Too’ movement twelve years before it was catapulted into the mainstream.

It is this kind of recognition that Tammy is promoting in the Netherlands. A manifesto is currently being developed by WMNL in collaboration with multiple activist organisations in the Netherlands, including PROUD (the Dutch Union for Sex Workers), Pink Terrorists (an LGBT organisation promoting the strength of the community) and New Women Impact Hub (who focus on the needs of refugee and migrant women) amongst others. These organisations are jointly working on a document that will be used to bring about change for women and minority communities in the Netherlands. Giving a platform to these voices is one of the most important reasons for this manifesto. ‘It’s not that the world needs another list of demands or manifesto per se,’ Tammy explains, ‘the difference here is people who are not necessarily at the table have a place now to come in.’

And come in they must. The fact that Amsterdam, the largest city in the Netherlands, is without a single abortion clinic for the first time since the 1970s, and the abortion pill is problematically included in the criminal code should be enough to silence any of those who suggest we no longer need feminism. This is not to mention that despite the legality of sex work in the Netherlands propping up the country’s image as one of the most liberal in the world, sex workers are still required to navigate around restricted access to basic healthcare services. There remains a larger income pay gap between men and women in the Netherlands than the EU average. Women and particularly women of colour, migrant women, disabled women, and LGBTQI people are hugely underrepresented in leadership positions in politics and other sectors. The list goes on, and it is clear that the Netherlands cannot rest on its image of progression and liberal politics – something that WMNL clearly has no intention of doing.

But there is an appetite for change, and Tammy is clear in her intention to provide a narrative that is ‘positive, humanistic, inclusive and something other than the fear and the hate that is being pushed by the right.’ There is a huge energy being thrown towards the feminist movement across the world and in the Netherlands, and as Tammy declares, ‘that energy is going to be turned into fuel.’