Pitching at the RSA: Creating a Sustainable Future in London

Hannah McCollum FRSA, who pitched her project ChicP at RSA Engage: Creating a Sustainable Future in London earlier this year, tells us more about it and calls on the Fellowship to help further her cause.

It has been my passion to change people’s attitudes to food preparation, consumption and waste, at the same time striving to encourage people to think differently about the way they eat. I am also a chef and have witnessed huge amounts of food go to waste at catering events. However, when catering for private clients, I invariably turned leftover vegetable dishes into dips the next day and soon gained a reputation for producing delicious healthy dips and zero waste! The refrain "what's the dip of the day Hannah!?" was constantly heard.

That is why I started ChicP just over 3 years ago. Using rejected or unsold vegetables from UK markets and wholesalers, I am able to produce tasty and nutritious hummus that people really like, and avoid waste.

There is a huge move to pioneer change, yet there are still many outstanding issues in the industry that need to be addressed: 

800,000 tonnes of fruit and vegetables are wasted before they leave the farm.

- The EU health & safety regulations, and the way they are applied in the UK, are too strict, limiting the use of UK vegetables in our supermarkets and in food production.

- These regulations, and supermarkets’ own requirements, cause tonnes of food waste in all areas of the food industry. 

- Competition between supermarkets drives low margins that do not support our farmers. Farmers are now looking for alternative forms of farming in order to stay in business. 

- The UK has a large trade deficit in fruit and vegetables which could be reduced if our own farm waste could be used.

- There is a lack of Government support and understanding. 

- The BRC’s manufacturing standards are also restricting businesses trying to do good and causing more food waste.

- The events and hospitality industry really needs to be addressed to look at other ways we can help reduce food waste and make this category more aware. I support WRAP’s Guardians of Grub campaign for this reason.

So my mission is to raise awareness around food waste, sustainability and reusing, gain new ideas from people and come together to make change! 

One way I’m looking to make people more aware is to open a ChicP hummus pop up in Central London, and this is the idea I pitched at RSA Engage in September. I intend the whole pop up to be run sustainably with the set up being made from upcycled materials, all the hummus made from leftover vegetables from various wholesalers, with a view to support farmers directly in the future, and bread will be surplus from London bakeries. There will also be clothes swaps, and opportunities for workshops, talks and launches in the sustainability field during the evenings.

How can you help?

I pitched The ChicP Sustainable Pop Up Project at the RSA’s Engage London event for a few reasons. I wanted to tell people about the ChicP story, why I started and to make people more aware of the problems around food waste and farming. Therefore, I’m looking for appropriate support and introductions in this field and help spreading awareness. We have a number of options which we're looking into and are hoping to launch in Spring 2020 - it is a small and simple project but hopefully with maximum impact. We are looking for help and advice, potential mentorship and introductions. 

I’d very much welcome your input if you are willing to help guide us through this process.

Contact Hannah McCollum: by email at hannah@chicp.co.uk or via her MyRSA.   

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