Waste Not Want Not in Clonakilty: A Whole Community Approach to Food Waste!

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In 2020, Ireland wasted a staggering 770,300 tonnes of food. Households have the biggest part in this (31%), but food waste doesn’t only occur at the dinner table or the grocery store – it is something that happens at every stage of the food production cycle. This situation seems incomprehensible given the resources invested in food production, reinforced by the existing inequalities around access to healthy and nutritious meals.

Beyond being an ethical concern both environmentally and socially, food waste also represents a financial loss for every link in the production chain, revealing a systemic undervaluation of the very food we produce. While unintentional, the act of wasting food necessitates conscious choices to rectify the flawed mechanisms perpetuating it.

VOICE’s new climate action programme against food waste is our way of supporting communities towards reducing waste in a holistic way, fostering sustainability and a circular economy at the heart of the food sector.

Clonakilty: our Food Waste Champion.

"Waste Not, Want Not" is a collaborative effort with local stakeholders, including Clonakilty Tidy Towns and Clonakilty Community Resource Center. This programme is not just about food waste; it's about experiencing a holistic transformation within the Clonakilty community.

Waste Not Want Not steering committee - From left: Kathryn Kingston (Clonakilty Community Resource Centre), John Hennessy and Diarmuid Cregan (Clonakilty Tidy Towns), Allison Roberts and Abi O’Callaghan-Platt (VOICE)

Throughout the programme individuals, farmers, businesses, clubs, and groups will be invited to share their experience and thoughts on food waste and collaboratively explore potential solutions that can be implemented right there and now!

In Clonakilty, we will not only tackle food waste in theory; we’ll be addressing it at key points of the supply chain, with the help of local champions. The open conversations we’ll hold will lead to the formation of groups of people that want to get involved in pilot projects, supported by VOICE and its partners. These will constitute a great experience around what we hope will become success stories.  

We strongly believe in the power of solidarity. By tackling this issue as a whole community, we aim to go beyond the individual’s responsibility to act, in order to enable collective changes that will eventually have a much bigger impact on all members of the community, even the ones that weren’t involved firsthand.

Making this programme a national example:

At VOICE, we’ve been committed to working with communities across Ireland since the very start (over 25 years now!). Our goal is to spark change and promote sustainability and the Circular Economy through a specific focus: waste.

That’s why, while primary focusing on supporting Clonakilty throughout the whole process and the exciting projects that will be carried out, we keep in mind all the other communities that are grappling with similar challenges. VOICE’s end goal is to produce a community manual to tackling food waste. By documenting Clonakilty’s journey, we’ll be able to create a comprehensive guidebook that will indicate the steps to follow for any Irish community wishing to embark in a similar transformative experiment.

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