• Incremental Change Agency

Solving the food waste crisis one neighbourhood at a time

This is Jessica Barnes.

She is a gardening enthusiast and a serial environmental entrepreneur.

Her mission is to keep food out of the landfill and turn it into compost to help support regenerative agriculture in communities through her business Sunshine in a Bottle. “One of the turning points for me was reading a UN Report which said that we only have 60 more years of farmable soil if we keep going the way we are going. So my children’s children may live in a time of famine or food insecurity. We have to change, and regenerative agriculture is the key. I knew this was something I could help with because I’ve been gardening for over 10 years in a regenerative context.” Jessica said.

“The global volume of food wastage is estimated at 1.6 billion tonnes. Food wastage carbon footprint is estimated at 3.3 billion tonnes of C02 equivalent of greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere.” (Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, 2020).  And is estimated to contribute to over 10 percent of total global greenhouse gas emissions (World Wildlife Fund, 2020). “Working to divert food waste is such a vital component of climate action. We have to think differently about waste and create options for people to be part of the solution." Jessica said. The ethos of the business is a reflection of a quote by Michael Pollan, "The single greatest lesson the garden teaches is that our relationship to the planet need not be zero-sum, and that as long as the sun still shines and people still can plan and plant, think and do, we can, if we bother to try, find ways to provide for ourselves without diminishing the world."

Sunshine in a Bottle Composting follows a simple model. Each customer is given a bucket, which they use to fill with left over food scraps. This is collected by bike weekly and swapped with a new one. It is then composted and returned to the customer as fresh compost or provided to community gardens in the city. “Currently our focus has been at the neighbourhood level, serving the residents of Titahi Bay in Porirua. My goal is to see compositing locations in every neighbourhood. As a mother of two, I love the idea that this business model could work for other parents. It has been a great pathway for me to work in something I’m passionate about, while giving me more time with my children. My customers have also said how much it has transformed their life through enhancing their gardens, helping them feel more in control of their carbon footprint and feeling more informed about the journey our food goes on.” Jessica said.

“The other side of my business is coaching. I really enjoy equipping people with the skills they need to thrive. This coaching is what helps our model be able to be so transferable and adoptable by anyone in any community." Jessica said.

Jessica is currently part of an incubator programme called Launch Lab perfecting her model so that it can be expanded into more locations. If you’re interested in learning more, join her for a workshop, follow her on social media or get in touch to learn how you can become a Sunshine in a Bottle composter.