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Rescuing things: Food waste in the rural environment in the Czech Republic

Sosna, Daniel, Brunclíková, Lenka, Galeta, Patrik
Journal of cleaner production 2019 v.214 pp. 319-330
anthropology, case studies, households, kitchen waste, packaging, rural areas, surveys, villages, waste composition, Czech Republic
Although household food waste has been scrutinized from various angles, less attention has been paid to rural areas viewed through the prism of everyday life. The purpose of this study is to investigate household food wasting in rural environment in West Bohemia, Czech Republic. This case study combines waste composition analysis of household waste and ethnographic research in a village conducted throughout 2013 and 2014. We describe the nature of waste itself, estimate its financial value using a method combining direct data from wasted packaging and retail survey, explore the differences among the households, interpret local understanding of food, and contribute to the theoretical debates concerning thrift. Our results show low degree of wasting of edible food (7.9 kg corresponding to 13.5 EUR per capita per year) but high variation among the households. Instead of searching for a single-causal explanation we explore a complex set of factors and relationships that shape everyday food-related practices. We approach the local discard practices via the concept of thrift and argue that it should be understood as a multi-dimensional domain that includes economizing via self-denial or creative management of resources, moral discourse entangled with care or responsibility, and social relations that shape the flows of value.