Banal Sustainability

Renewing the Cultural Norm of Not Wasting Food

in Ethnologia Europaea
Liia-Maria Raippalinna University of Jyväskylä

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Recently food waste has been raised as a major sustainability problem: roughly one third of the food produced globally ends up lost or wasted. This article investigates how people attach meaning to food waste reduction, based on eight individual interviews conducted with people met at a consumer education event in Helsinki in 2017. It is shown how the traditional cultural norm of not wasting food is reproduced in discourse on thrift and frugality and renewed by research-based arguments from circular economy discourse and environmental and sustainability discourse. It is proposed that the interplay of discourses merge into what Lars Kaijser calls banal sustainability: the complicated issue of food waste is translated into everyday practises, and traditional practises are reframed as tools for making a better future.

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