It’s not the ‘skipping’ three who should be questioned, it’s the wasteful supermarkets

112438733_Natalie_B_332160c

Natalie Bennett Green Party Leader

In a world where nearly a billion people go hungry, this model cannot continue

It was a commenter on my Facebook page who put the skipping’ charges against three men who were taking discarded food from a bin at an Iceland store in North London in the best perspective I’ve seen – they said: if there’s a crime here, it’s only the (non-legal) one of wastefulness, in which case it’s the supermarket that should be in the dock, not the dumpster divers.

Three men are being charged – the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has said it sees “significant public interest” in proceeding – accused of taking stealing tomatoes, mushrooms, cheese and Mr Kipling cakes from a supermarket’s bins. Police say they retrieved and “returned” the items to the store. That is to say they ensured what was undoubtedly perfectly good food went into (at best) composting or anaerobic digestion, but quite likely into landfill.

You do have to wonder if there’s a campaigner in the CPS who thinks it is time to put the entire supermarket model of food distribution on trial.

Recently, Tesco admitted that more than 30 per cent of bagged salad is wasted in store, and 40 per cent of apples. In total in the first six months of last year, 28,500 tonnes of food waste were generated in its stores and distribution centres. No doubt the other giant oligopolists that dominate our food chains are similar.

The fact that ‘dumpster diving’/‘skipping’/‘bin raiding’ is a new phenomenon is clear from the absence of a settled name – but it’s clear that it the practice is spreading fast. That’s a product of the rising desperation in our society that has seen foodbanks become one of our fastest growing industries, as I saw for myself last week on a visit to one in prosperous Winchester.

We hardly need a reminder of how wasteful the supermarket model is. It’s based on the principle that every item will be in stock all of the time, and will be shipped back and forth across the country, or the globe, from grower to packager to warehouse to store. Inevitably, enormous quantities go to waste. Continue reading

Advertisements

EU CLIMATE PROPOSALS MUST GO FURTHER

220px-Jean_LambertGreen MEP Jean Lambert has criticised proposals for new climate change targets published by the the European Commission has today , saying they must go further.

The European Commission has today published proposals setting out how the EU will tackle climate change between now and 2030.

Specifically, they must also include a target on improving energy efficiency, said Ms Lambert – and they should be higher.

The EU should offer real leadership on tackling climate change,” she said.

Climate Change is a truly global problem, and we need to tackle it fairly. It is the developed world which has caused the lion’s share of the emissions which are already causing devastating climate change – and poorer developing countries that are paying the heaviest price.

The EU needs to be much more ambitious. I welcome the fact that these proposals include targets on reducing CO2 emissions – and increasing the amount of our electricity we generate from renewable sources, but at 40% and 27% respectively these targets just aren’t high enough.

Greens believe we need to reduce CO2 emissions by at least 60% by 2030 – and to do that we’ll need to generate at least 45% of our electricity from renewable sources like wind, solar and tidal. Even MEPs in general have been more ambitious than the Commission. Continue reading

Brighton: the battle for localism

Brighton has a well established reputation for being ‘alternative’. The city returned the country’s first Green MP and the first green-led council, and it was among the first councils to reinstate the committee system. Now the minority administration is vying to become the first to put a council tax rise decision to the electorate.

Whether by design or not, the party that has traditionally shunned leadership is at the forefront of a debate that has wide-ranging implications. This is a battle for localism – for the right and the ability of local councils to set local tax to fund local services according to the priorities of local people.

It is a classic David and Goliath battle: the minority council, painted in the media as somewhat oddball, dares to take on the commonly held assumption that the public wants Scandinavian services for American taxes. It is a high stakes game.

The bar is almost impossibly high. As if asking people to vote for higher taxes were not enough, there is the unpalatable question of the cost of running the referendum, the lack of flexibility in the wording of the referendum question, the need to spend more money campaigning, and the obligation to poll the whole electoral roll, not only council tax payers.

Yet Brighton’s Greens, who unlike other councils are not tied by national party conventions, are the first to to be brave – or insert another adjective if you prefer – enough to put their convictions to the test.

They face two major hurdles. First is to get the plan through the council. The Greens hold 21 seats but Labour (14) and the Conservatives (18) do not support it. As Green leader Jason Kitcat says, it is technically possible if some dissenters abstain.

In the unlikely event the plan is passed, the public will be an even greater test. A ComRes opinion poll in October suggested the Greens would come third if an election was called, and Brighton’s own consultation on support for a rise was far from conclusive. Only 6% of the 659 respondents supported a rise outright and half said they would support a rise under some circumstances at some point in the future. Continue reading