Published 14 February 2019
When the opportunity to lead the Waste Fighters Society fell into their laps, Liv Arkell and Alice Perch, both undergraduate Arts/Law students, took up the challenge with relish. The society is gearing up for a massive year on campus, starting with a special February 27 screening of the award winning documentary Food Fighter, featuring Ronni Kahn of food security charity OzHarvest. SEI editor Liberty Lawson sat down with Liv and Alice to find out more about their mission to transform USYD into a more sustainable and just campus.
What is your mission with the Wastage Society?
Our mission is to reduce waste and wasteful habits, and to do so in a fun and approachable way.
What inspired you to get involved with the society?
We wanted to reduce our footprints and do more to help the environment. It’s also such a great way of meeting some like-minded people with similar goals to help reduce waste on campus.
Why is food waste and food security such a critical issue for people to engage with in Sydney, particularly students?
Almost half of all food waste comes from residential homes. Most of it could be composted or reused; instead it goes to landfill. This impacts Sydney’s plants and animals, waterways and carbon footprint. Amongst the student community, the issue of wastage is problematic not only on an environmental level, but also a financial level. The cost of clothes, food and many single-use goods is disproportionate to a student’s income. If we were better at reusing our resources and hence reducing our overconsumption and waste, our resources would be able to reach more students, while we could also make a really significant difference to the environment.
What are your hopes for this year, and for the long-term future of the University campus?
We would like waste reduction to stop being an icky, fringe topic and become something people are proud to work towards. This year we have a number of events making waste reduction fun, starting with our Oz Harvest film screening. Through talks, clean-ups and upcycling initiatives we’d love to see a cultural shift around this issue, with waste reduction becoming something that all students can band together to work on regardless of political views or area of study. Our campus needs to embrace its environmental potential; reducing waste is actually quite easy, and can have such a positive and far-reaching impact, especially with such a large student body and campus.
The Wastage Society is sponsoring a screening of the award winning documentary Food Fighter at Dendy Newtown on February 27. Food Fighter follows social activist and founder of OzHarvest Ronni Kahn over two years and across four continents as she crusades against the global food waste scandal, partnering with the United Nations in Bangkok, rubbing shoulders with British royalty and Jamie Oliver’s juggernaut in London, and holding big business and the government to account in Australia. Tickets for this special screening are available here.