Food Unfiltered is made of up team members Aravind, Jerlin, Yasira and Ernest — four final-year students from the Wee Kim Wee School of Communication at Nanyang Technological University. Find out about their #ClimateActionSG story here!

Food Unfiltered is actually a communications campaign that we started as part of our Final Year Project. Though it started academic in nature, right now, it’s really more of a passion project of ours. Right off the bat, we knew we wanted to work on something meaningful and impactful, even if it meant tackling an issue that was difficult to address, or a behaviour that was deeply entrenched. It really helped that we were on the same page from the very beginning.

The topic of food waste reduction came about rather naturally for us. It was an unexpected coincidence, but all of us had taken sustainability-related courses at various points of our university life, and the idea of advocating for something that could have a long-lasting impact beyond our campaign duration was something that really excited us. After bouncing off some potential topics as a team, the only one that really resonated with us was the idea of tackling the practice of cosmetic filtering — partly because it was an issue that hadn’t been widely addressed in Singapore.

We might’ve been overly optimistic about the impact four students could make in Singapore, but we really believed that it was always worth a shot trying to kickstart the change we want to see — and here we are today!

We’ve gone on food rescue trips at Pasir Panjang Wholesale Centre with Food Bank Singapore (FBS). That experience was definitely eye-opening as we saw how much food was thrown out by suppliers, and this was even before it could be subject to consumer bias.

One of the many piles of discarded fruit and vegetables at Pasir Panjang Wholesale Centre.

While we learnt through our research that 46% of food produced globally gets discarded due to imperfect appearances, it’s one thing to read about it, and another thing altogether to see it for ourselves. We also produced a video feature on FBS to create greater awareness about their mission, and for them to share about their views on ugly food.

We recently collaborated with SaladStop! to produce a mini-series on debunking misconceptions about ugly food. We learnt that in order to tackle the common misconceptions, it was important to talk about ugly food from a nutritional and scientific angle — and we were really excited when SaladStop!’s in-house nutritionist came on-board to shed more light on the goodness of ugly food. This was great because our pre-campaign surveys showed that 35.9% of the 243 Singaporeans surveyed believed that ugly fruits and vegetables were less nutritious and 52% believed that consuming ugly food would have detrimental effects on their health. And that’s really far from the truth!

Redistribution of rescued food at a welfare estate

We’ve also had numerous on-ground events to share our message with the wider community. Some of these were held in the heartlands, and we also had a two-day booth at NTU. Overall, our events allowed us to share our campaign with a wider audience and just spread the love of ugly food. Plus, it’s always great to meet others who are interested, or even more passionate, about the topic of ugly food and food waste reduction.

Sharing about food waste with heartlanders.

One upcoming event we’re excited about is Feeding the 5000. It’s an event organised by Gone Adventurin, and we’re extremely proud be named an Official Outreach Partner for the it. Besides having a platform to share our message, we’re looking forward to meeting more like-minded individuals to celebrate ugly food. It’s going to be really exciting!

For our project, we’ll be focusing on partnering with other organisations and individuals of a similar mission. It’s been difficult to spread our message to a wide audience effectively, but we’re thankful that we’ve found some supportive organisations and like-minded collectives. We’re excited to continue working with them, and to see how we can collaborate.

On a more personal level, we’re trying to really advocate for ugly food to our family and friends. This journey has made us realise that there are so many facets of sustainability. Food waste is definitely our passion, but we want to venture into other aspects such as reducing plastic waste. Climate change is a massive issue and every small action, whether it’s turning down disposable cutlery or bringing our lunch boxes, can really make a difference.

Climate action is vital if we want the generation after ours to have the same opportunities we do. The whole idea of sustainability is about preserving what we have now for those who come after us, and we can’t do that if we don’t actively try to combat climate change. Our daily activities and habits have definitely had negatively impacts on the environment and we need to be aware of that so that we can make changes.

We really do hope that more Singaporeans jump on the sustainability movement. The fact that we have so little space and so many people to support puts us under more pressure to be more environmentally-conscious. When it comes to waste management, we don’t have the luxury of land like other countries do and that impacts us in more ways than we realise. For example, the Semakau landfill is expected to run out of space by 2030 and when that happens, we will have to reclaim more land or find somewhere else to dispose of our waste. Singapore has only just begun to make efforts to be more sustainable but it’s definitely a step in the right direction.

Climate Action is something that everyone can do. Whether it’s reducing your own consumption of resources or starting an initiative like we did, everyone can play a part. It’s just a matter of getting started.

Throughout our project, we’ve seen how organisations are making a move to reduce their impact on the environment, and even individuals who champion their own initiative from ground-up and dedicate their whole lives to combating an aspect of climate change. This has been really inspiring to see. If everyone just does a little bit to reduce their impact on the environment, we can really make a difference.

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