Can you tell us a bit about what you do?
As the founder and Principal Consultant at Dragonfly Marketing I am passionate about making a difference in our community. I believe it’s important to be an active and contributing member of our local community and I do this by providing pro-bono marketing services to various not-for-profit organizations. One of these organizations is REAP; the regional arm of OzHarvest which is Australia’s leading food rescue charity. They collect quality surplus food to distribute it to people in need and divert food waste from landfill.
What an incredible organization, what is it about REAP that drives you to get on board and assist & guide them?
These days it’s easy to be overwhelmed by the amount of opportunities to support the thousands of not-for-profit organizations who are all doing such incredible work. For me, if I’m going to do something, I’m going to do the best job I can. I want to actually make a difference as opposed to making a perfunctory contribution that’s driven by compulsion or obligation.
I have chosen to support the food rescue charity REAP so passionately as I realize the values of this organization so closely aligns with experiences that have shaped my life to date.
My mother was born in the UK & was well ahead of her time in her waste management efforts. From when I can first remember she had us all sorting our rubbish and food scraps into compostable waste and regular trash. This was before the time that the local council provided households with the appropriate bins and the collection service to support this. Our compost scraps always went back into the garden to generate a rich and fertile soil for future growth.
As there was no recycling waste as such we were encouraged to reduce and reuse where ever possible. Toilet rolls were collected for craft activities and wrapping paper was always carefully peeled off any presents, folded neatly and stored away for when we needed to wrap a present next. Some of those wraps catered for about six or seven giftings!
These habits became innate to us and it wasn’t for a very long time that I realized our waste habits were a bit of an anomaly. Most people just chucked everything in the bin, where it would become another problem for another time somewhere in landfill.
Such valuable life lessons passed on by a very wise woman, no doubt. What are the most prominent changes you recognize in Society today compared to your childhood experiences?
Thirty years later, and our society is nuts with materialism. In an effort to respond to consumer demand and global competition, manufacturers are producing 50 times the amount of ‘stuff’ at reduced prices and unfortunately horrendously reduced quality.
We have products of little nutritional value and a high proportion of packaging filling our shopping aisles in supermarkets that are the size of small towns. We are fervently encouraged to buy and we can still ignore the consequences of our waste.
It’s also become very easy for us to ignore those families within our community that are living below the poverty line. The gap between rich and poor continues to spread and the growing sprawl of urban development allows us to switch on our blinkers and turn a blind eye to any uncomfortable truths we choose not to face.
Whether we choose to see it or not, the fact is that we still have members of our community who are vulnerable and disadvantaged.
In Port Macquarie, a small regional town on the Mid North Coast of New South Wales in Australia, we have little kids who go to school without having had any breakfast and without having any snacks or lunch in their school bags.
Are these some of the very issues that inspired the establishment of REAP?
OzHarvest was founded in November 2004 when event’s organizer, Ronni Kahn wanted to make a significant contribution to society. Stunned by the amount of food wasted by the hospitality industry, she decided to do something about it.
OzHarvest rescues its food daily from restaurants, cafes, hotels, retailers and food outlets throughout these cities then delivers the fresh meals which can include pre-prepared meals, fresh fruit and vegetables, meat and seafood products and packaged food to its charities.
In 2011, OzHarvest found a way to assist and teach communities and individuals in rural Australia to set up their own food rescue service with the introduction of a regional food rescue program, REAP.
Reap food rescue was established in the Port Macquarie Hastings region to facilitate the collection of good excess food in the Hastings Community. It currently supplies local charities, schools and community organizations and assist with fundraising initiatives. It also reduces the amount of good food going to landfill.
How did you ensure that Dragonfly Marketing could get involved with such a great organization?
When I heard about this charity and found out that we had a representative in Port Macquarie who was undertaking this amazing work, I was thrilled. Originally planning to volunteer as someone who helped with the physical food rescue and redistribution, I practically stalked the organizer down to try and get myself on board.
While I was pursuing her I started to conduct my own research and realized it was very hard to track down any information about what this charity was doing locally and it was turning out to be even harder to volunteer my time for them. Who were they donating to? I didn’t even know we had homeless people in our community, let alone kids whose parents could not afford to feed them. And if I didn’t know this I could assume that most of our city would not know this if we didn’t bring this fact to their attention.
Then it struck me how I could help! With my determination levels turned up a notch, I contacted them again and suggested I help them get the word out around town with some pro-bono marketing.
Since then we have established a Facebook presence, a website, plenty of media and am I’m now helping the national office of OzHarvest to develop some social media marketing resources to help other regionally based REAP volunteers to spread the word about what they do so they too can get their local community on board.
This interview was conducted by UYD ambassador Trudey Bailey. Trudey is the owner/creator Firefly Soy Candle Co. She is passionate about the environment, health, & wellness and completely mesmerized by the beauty of all things plant based. Catch her on Twitter here.