Young people have an excellent way of speaking the truth, even the uncomfortable ones. This is never truer than when it comes to issues of looking after our planet and taking seriously the damage our current lifestyles are having. The local newspaper, the RiverView, featured an interview with Leo about food waste and the lack of it in Barking & Dagenham. Leo wanted to do something about it.
Since then, it has been exciting to link up with the Young Citizen Action Group at Riverside School and with others at Leo’s own school, George Carey Primary School to turn words into action. The young people met Councillor Achilleos, who is the Green Champion in the Borough to take this further.
Erik was one of the young people leading the discussion. He shared:
“After hearing about Leo’s food waste campaign, I felt inspired and encouraged to join his project in order to make a change. During the meeting with Cllr Achilleos we asked him if we could have a food waste collection system across the entire borough and have food waste bins and biodegradable bags provided for free.”
Everyone was pleased to hear that food waste is already high on the council agenda, and they are exploring how to implement this for residents next year. Leo reflected after the meeting, “I felt nervous in the beginning, but the Councillor was kind and very polite, when he said they would do it in 2023 it felt really good and I was excited!”
Councillor Achilleos shared: “It was great to meet with young people from Riverside and George Carey Schools to discuss food waste recently. Their initiative, enthusiasm, and engagement with the issue filled me with hope that we can overcome the challenges, to deliver a food waste service and a carbon neutral future for Barking and Dagenham. Young voices have proved particularly powerful in the climate debate, and I will be working hard to ensure those voices are heard as we work towards our goal of net-zero by 2030.”
So, progress is being made, and that leaves the question of what next? It is great that the council is hoping to bring food recycling to every home next year, for free. The young people continue to watch this to make sure it happens. There is a role each of us can play too, not only to recycle our food waste when the bins arrive, but we can reduce our own food waste today. These young people are committed to keep working for a greener future and working with our schools to do that. Did you know, 30% of the food we buy goes in the bin? We can change that by only buying what we need, saving not only waste but money too – what’s not to love!