The journey of a food waste champion


Food waste is a massive problem in New Zealand. Households alone send 157,398 tonnes of food waste to our landfills each year, enough to feed the population of Dunedin for three years! This doesn’t include the masses of food waste from the food supply chain, including cafes, supermarkets, and manufacturers.

Our friends at Love Food Hate Waste have been running programmes to help people better understand the value of food, how not to waste it, and how to use it differently. Here’s Tracey’s inspiring story, from someone who attended a Love Food Hate Waste event, and as a result has become an even stronger zero food waste champion.

Tracey’s story

Imagine making tasty food from parts of vegetables you’d usually throw away!

Tracey Hoey was already doing a lot to reduce waste, but she learned even more handy new tips and tricks at a Love Food Hate Waste workshop recently.

“We made a potato peel soup at the workshop, as well as a delicious broccoli stalk pesto, both which I now love making. And, while I was already pretty creative with using up leftovers, I do now cook more of the stalks from green vegetables than I used to,”

Food waste advocacy

Tracey is a food waste advocate. She educates people on a daily basis, sometimes without realising, about the amount of food waste we create. She is also a keen composter, a volunteer for a local food charity, and is studying a Masters in Gastronomy in food politics.

Even so, she was still shocked at how bad the numbers were regarding how much food is wasted.

“I walked out of the workshop amazed at how much food waste goes to landfill, and how long it then takes to decompose. I stopped using my waste disposal system, as I learnt that the food still ends up in our landfills anyway,”

“I also always tell people that more than 150,000 tonnes of food a year is wasted, which is like 271 jumbo jets full, which is money down the gurgler too!”

The cost of food waste

Food waste, from both an environmental and financial point of view has been something Tracey has been aware of for years. She is on to something; not only is it hurting our environment, it hurts our wallets, with Kiwis throwing away $100 million of leftovers every year. Despite this, 89% of us think wasting food is wrong.

Tracey lives on Auckland’s Whangaparaoa Peninsula with her teenage children and husband, where her food waste warrior lifestyle is particularly seen in action when her children try to put food scraps in the rubbish bin!

Food waste with teenage children is much less than that when they were younger. In those earlier years, Tracey and her family had chickens in the backyard who would eat the majority of the food scraps and in return lay eggs for breakfast. They no longer have chickens, but Tracey now composts and tries to use food more wisely.

When Tracey is not studying, she is an active volunteer at the local charity Love Soup. Food that would otherwise go to waste is rescued and given to communities in need through a weekly community dinner, food parcels, and a school lunch programme.


EcoMatters works in partnership with Love Food Hate Waste to deliver programs that help to reduce organic waste and build food resilience in our community.

Tracey’s story highlights the trickle effect and how one person can have an impact on the movement through many aspects of their lives.

To find out more check out the Love Food Hate Waste website for tips and inspiration about how you can save money and reduce your food waste at home.

Check out their free seasonal meal planner and recipe book to help families shop, cook and eat nourishing meals for under $70 a week.

For other ways to reduce your waste and how to compost from home learn online at Compost Collective.