Bins to Banquets tells the story of two pedal-powered activists turning food waste into community feasts.

Olivia bin-dives food produce from supermarkets bins to eat; distribute with the local community and reduce her living costs enabling her to run non-profit community projects. Amos is a member of Red Moon Roots Collective that use donated surplus food to cook free, vegan feasts for the community.

The seed of the film began with mine (Meely) and Olivia’s bin-diving in Canterbury, for the past 18 months we have been collecting food waste from the back of supermarkets. As we became overwhelmed with the quantity of food we were collecting, we would continually invite friends around to eat, sending them home with ‘food waste’.  The ability to feed our friends with no limits created a sense of abundance and nourishment that strengthened our connections with the community. Always parallel to the beautiful bounty we were experiencing was the sadness of so much food going to waste.  We would find bins overflowing with organic vegetables and fruit from other continents – the most painful was seeing bins full of meat, feeling the pain of animals lives being taken just to be sent to landfill.  As vegans, initially we would only eat vegan products, leaving fish and dairy - over time, we began to take dairy, eggs and occasionally fish. To connect with the life and spirit of the animals who may have suffered, we would bless these products, thanking the animals and imagining the beauty they experienced in their life. Gratitude and intention became intertwined with all our food as we thanked the farmers; the soil; the sun; the people who transported and packed the produce; each other our presence.  We shared this practice with our friends and through pot-luck events that we hosted through our Beetbox Food Cooperative – a group we set up to provide local; organic veg bags and create community around healthy food.

We wished to communicate these experiences of food waste; having gratitude and intention around food and connecting communities together through sharing.  

In the summer I had met Red Moon Roots, a collective who share wholesome, affordable food through catering and events at festivals and gatherings.  They host regular cook and eat sessions, turning food waste into whole; plant-based feasts with the help of volunteers. To compliment the personal community being created in Canterbury around food and demonstrate how this intention can grow to integrate into a wider community I reached out to Amos, from Red Moon Roots, to ask if I could film their project. I was warmly welcomed and went to London for pre-liminary filming in January.

Pre-liminary filming and conversations with the projects created social connections with the communities; helped me to familiarise myself with the equipment and filming style; and support the creation of narrative. By creating a close relationship with the subject, an intimacy is created that enables trust and understanding between the film-maker and subject (Rouch, 1974).

Working with exercises in Rabiger’s ‘Directing the documentary’ was useful in understanding my artistic identity and intention behind the making of the film.  The belief that individuals are made of multiple personalities is useful for story-telling and recognising the alter-egos we have affinity with can help reveal our creative voice. Characters I resonated with were predominately female activists who had a connection with the environment. Whilst feminism is a strong motivation for my artistic creations, the role of the divine masculine is a vital aspect of this so the use of a female and male character enabled this balance (Rabiger, 2004).
I wrote a working hypothesis suggested by Rabiger at the beginning of the process and it is amazing to see how much these aims were for filled in the final film. I look forward to sharing the film and asking for feedback from audiences on their reactions – did I achieve my aim in that sense?

Working Hypothesis
In life I believe that all should be grateful for the gifts given to us to flourish. The film aims to show this belief in action by exploring the issue of food waste and people who are seeking solutions to the issue. The main conflicts in the film will be

Capitalism versus Free Food
Consumerism versus Activism
Individualism versus Community

The point of view of the film will be from two characters, Olivia and Amos.
The structure of the film will be following a narrative from foraging food waste to cooking then to sharing with the community.
I would like the audience to feel informed, motivated and inspired while having a greater
understanding of the importance of food activism.

Macdougalls belief that film is “an extension of the self towards others” resonates with my sense of this film as I have expressed my passions for food, activism and community through this film (MacDougall, 1998, p29).

MacDougall, D. 1998. Transcultural Cinema. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Rabiger, M. (2004). Directing the documentary. Amsterdam: Focal Press

Rouch, J. (1974). The Camera and Man. Studies in the Anthropology of Visual Communication, 1(1), pp.37-44.