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Volunteers ensure food waste leaves bad taste for society

(Xinhua)    14:55, August 28, 2020

BEIJING, Aug. 28 (Xinhua) -- Donning a red vest, Xie Yong hit the streets early in the morning to campaign against food waste, a cause he has been dedicated to for more than a decade.

He went from restaurant to restaurant in southwest China's Chongqing, carrying a placard that reads "frugality starts from you and me" and politely asking diners to clear their plates by taking away leftovers.

China has launched a campaign against food waste at home and when eating out since 2013 and renewed the call this year to alert an increasingly prosperous society, where memories of hunger are being replaced by concerns of obesity and unbridled consumerism.

The increasing number of volunteers like Xie is a reflection of the campaign's growing impact.

Responding to the food frugality call, Xie overhauled his family's dining habits.

His wife used to cook much more than they could consume every time their daughter and son-in-law visited. After such expressions of hospitality, a large amount of food usually ended up in the trash.

"Diligence and thrift have always been traditional virtues of our country, without which we can't realize the Chinese Dream of national rejuvenation," Xie wrote in a letter urging family members to forego wasteful habits.

The letter resonated with his family better than he had anticipated. Now before dropping in, Xie's daughter discusses food preparation with Xie and his wife. They also established a rule to punish anyone who leaves a room without turning off the light or whoever produces the most leftovers with weekend housework.

"These changes have not only reminded us to cherish our food, they have helped our family and friends carry forward the virtue of thrift in all aspects of our lives," said Xie.

China's summer grain output reached a historic high of 142.81 million tonnes this year. Though officials said this year's severe floods had a limited impact on the autumn grain production, they did sound a timely warning in the country that stands as the world's largest consumer of food.

The Chinese government has vowed to eradicate absolute poverty this year, after tireless efforts brought down China's rural poor population from 98.99 million at the end of 2012 to 5.51 million by the end of 2019. Even as society gets richer, campaigners insist that now is not the time to indulge in extravagant food consumption.

"We shouldn't forget the days when there wasn't enough food to eat. That was only a few decades ago. My parents experienced hunger before, so I am compelled to put a stop to anyone wasting food," said Zhang Qian, head of a volunteer group in Shuyang County, east China's Jiangsu Province.

Zhang is among nearly 600 volunteers campaigning against food waste in Shuyang, who in July issued a call against the usually extravagant graduation banquets funded by students and their parents to treat teachers.

Many restaurants have also joined the campaign with business innovations. In Wuhan, restaurants offer cheaper dishes with smaller portions to curb food waste while bringing in more customers, which helped them recover faster from the COVID-19 doldrums.

At a restaurant in Hefei, capital of east China's Anhui Province, customers are rewarded with gifts such as cash coupons and key chains if they choose to pack leftovers.

"We are working to promote the societal awareness of the benefits of frugality, especially among the younger generation," Zhang said. "This requires cooperation among the government, businesses and social groups."

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Shi Xi, Hongyu)

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