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The Language of Waste, Why Food Matters and More

Episode 43: A conversation with Darby Hoover, senior resource specialist of food and agriculture for the Natural Resources Defense Council.
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In the latest episode of our NothingWasted! Podcast, we chat with Darby Hoover, senior resource specialist, food and agriculture, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). NRDC works to safeguard the earth—its people, its plants, its animals and the natural systems on which all life depends.

We spoke with Hoover about the importance of language when talking about waste; the roles of consumers, governments and producers; the future of packaging; and more.

Here’s a sneak peek into the discussion:

Waste360: Can you tell us a little bit about the work you do at NRDC?

Darby Hoover: When I moved onto our food waste team, one of the things I found really exciting was that we were looking at something that essentially is a systems failure—not a problem that the “waste people” have to go solve on the side. And that, to me, is how you get at that holy grail of preventing waste in the first place; rethinking waste … to look at it as a systems failure and an opportunity for adopting new processes and behaviors, policies and programs that will redirect our ideas about what that material is and recognizing it as something useful that can be repurposed.

Waste360: Can you tell us more about your Food Matters project?

Darby Hoover: A couple of years ago, in partnership with The Rockefeller Foundation, we started our Food Matters project, which is really focused on cities and what they can do to help mitigate wasted food. The reason for this focus is three-fold: cities are often responsible for dealing with waste, many cities are concerned with alleviating hunger and many cities are adopting some form of zero waste or other social goals that touch on the food waste issue. So, this project helps put strategies in place to help cities with these initiatives.

Waste360: Do you have any advice for folks just entering the world of waste, recycling and organics?

Darby Hoover: I think, for me, it really is about keeping your eye on the prize and where we want to go. My big picture is that waste is an anomaly, not a given. And that influences my advocacy work. It’s great for people to figure out what niche appeals to them. You don’t have to know about what you are passionate about; find something that is interesting to you and pursue what you are curious about. Go down that road and see where it leads you.

Listen to the full episode below and more episodes here. Read transcript here. You can also keep the discussion going with Hoover at WasteExpo, May 4 to 7, in New Orleans. She will be speaking in two sessions and has lots more knowledge to share.

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