Whenever I travel, food waste in self-service all-you-can-eat buffet restaurants breaks my heart. We’ve seen it again and again, from the UK to Cuba and around Europe. During a recent trip to Scandinavia, I did my bit to fight back…
Our trip to Norway finished with a couple of nights in Ålesund, staying at the excellent Quality Hotel Waterfront on Nedre Strandgate. It’s a Nordic gem, with a strong eco-stance and a delicious buffet breakfast. And that’s where my hackles were raised as, yet again, we watched uneaten platefuls of delicious local bread, brunost and waffles being shovelled into the garbage. Why, oh why, when they can come back again and again for food, do people pile their plates too high and then leave it?
Speaking to hotel management, I suggested a simple notice to encourage guests to waste less. The idea went down well and I was asked if I could help with some ideas. When I said I was a copywriter in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire and offered to write something, guest service assistant Karoline Thorstensen (see picture below) was delighted. Mrs H and I were given free-run of the hotel bar and I set to work…
Karoline Thorstensen from Ålesund’s Quality Hotel Waterfront and Cheltenham copywriter Al Hidden
The finished text had to be in Norwegian, German and English. I developed a copy concept around ‘help yourself to as much as you want, but help to avoid waste’. It had to be something that wouldn’t appear dictatorial, but would emphasise the benefit of enjoying as much as you want while gently reminding about avoiding wasted food.
Aware that the play on words wouldn’t translate easily, and that I’d need input from a native German speaker, I also drafted a more direct Germanic version. Karoline, who is German-Norwegian, was delighted, loved the concept and promptly emailed my copy to her mother, a native German speaker, to polish my German and draft a Norwegian variant. That happened overnight; the message was on display in time for breakfast.
Will my work help reduce waste? I hope so, and so does Karoline and the rest of the hotel’s team. We’ll be interested to check out the results next time we visit Ålesund and stay at the Quality Hotel Waterfront. Which we will, because it’s great.
Al Hidden is an experienced Gloucestershire based copywriter specialising in Marketing, Web/SEO, technical and PR copywriting.