Food Waste Around the World Episode 7: Belarus
Food Waste Around the World is a Food Circle’s project aimed at providing information and raising awareness about food waste. The project is designed as a series of interviews with students coming from different countries with the aim of understanding how this issue is tackled and perceived around the world. This is made possible thanks to Sapient, the mother company of Food Circle, which every year offers internships to students from all around the world creating a unique multicultural environment.
Hi Yana, thank you so much for sharing your time with us today and participating in the project ‘Food Waste Around the World'. To start, can you tell me a little bit about yourself and where are you from?
Hello, my name is Yana Shapkina. I'm from Belarus, a small city called Borysov. It's near the capital of Belarus, Minsk. I'm 20 years old and I finished my studies in Warsaw, as a graphic designer (First Degree). During my studies, I was passionate about the eco-lifestyle so I can say I was always interested in the topic of this interview. I'm honoured to have this conversation and the opportunity to share my information and knowledge about the food waste situation in my country, Belarus. Because I think it's a big issue.
That’s great! You said food waste is a huge issue in Belarus. Can you tell us more about what is really happening? What is your insight?
It's a huge issue, to be honest. But it's getting better with social media, getting more popular. People are raising awareness and talking about this topic more. Now, people can get information from all over the world using social platforms. And for example, I know that a lot of young people in Belarus are getting more informed about separating food from trash and recycling. People started to talk about it more openly, so I think it's good. But with the older generation it is a bit harder because they don't see the point in doing this, or they are too lazy, or sometimes they just don't know why it's so important. They are not aware and informed about food waste and how it's critical for our planet. When I started to prepare for this conversation I was reading a lot of articles about food waste in Belarus so I found just a few organizations who started to participate in this, to work with supermarkets in Belarus. Because supermarkets in Belarus have a big problem with all the food which is constantly being thrown away just because it doesn't look good on the shelves. They are producing food waste because it's cheaper rather than donate it or give it to their employees, or another organization that takes care about food waste. So, sadly there's a lot of food that's being wasted in supermarkets in Belarus.
Interesting! Could you notice any differences in what you see in Belarus compared to the Netherlands? According to food waste?
According to food waste, I guess we're on different levels. The Netherlands has better management with food waste. In Belarus, we haven't been thinking about this problem a few years ago. We just started and are still growing but we are far behind.
Who is really driving the attention or raising awareness on the food waste issue? Is it the government or are they NGO’s and small communities?
I think the people and communities are doing the most. In the articles, I’ve read I could only find one organization that's called Pushcha. It helps to take food that's looking bad from huge supermarkets and they share this food with people in need. It's a very simple organization battling with food waste and it's not under the government. So mostly volunteering people are doing this. Actually, I haven't heard of any governmental org. that cares about food waste.
Are you aware of any specific initiatives to address food waste?
As I mentioned, there are not many initiatives done by the Belarus government to my knowledge. And the only organization that takes part in this is the one I mentioned before is Pushcha.
Do you think that the government will do more in the future? Do you think that food waste is a priority in their agenda?
I think it definitely would be better in the future. Because social media is getting more and more popular and people are caring more about food waste so the government will notice it in the future. I haven't been living in Belarus for years so I might not be aware of the latest updates but I know that it's not considered as a priority at the moment. But I hope there will be more governmental organizations because in that case it will be more serious and people are getting more interested and more aware of the problem.
At last, What do you think could be the possible next steps to be taken by the different organisations? Do you think it needs to come from the community following a bottom-up approach or top-down from the government?
I think it will be a better way to inform people through the government. A lot of people don't trust personal opinion on those topics. They choose to trust the government more. So I think more government pages and projects should be done. Also, the government can support businesses that have low food waste and give them more information about how to do their business with less food waste.
That's it, thank you so much for participating!
Thank you for having me!
Interviewer: Ceyda Gezbic
Interviewed: Yana Shapkina
Editor and writer: Ceyda Gezbic