The small city of Galdakao (just outside of Bilbao, Spain) has come up with a creative solution for tackling food waste, using a communal fridge where anyone can leave or take food. The goal is not to provide charity, although providing food to the food insecure is one benefit. The primary goal is to deal with excess food. Now restaurants and citizens can leave extra food in the fridge, following some basic rules in order to maintain food safety, and anyone at all is welcome to take food from the fridge. The fridge sits on the pavement with a small fence around it to ensure it’s not mistaken for a rejected appliance.Volunteers are in place to remove any food that sits in the fridge too long, though so far nothing has had to be tossed because the food has such high turnover. It took some time to get the project up and running – especially getting city approval and a public space to use – but it seems to be proving a success, despite some initial hesitancy in the community. Already, two to three hundred kilos of food have been saved from being trash. The project was inspired by a similar initiative in Berlin and now there’s already talk of a second fridge in Galdakao and a similar project in the city of Murcia. Now I just wish there was one in Guelph…
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When it comes to food shopping, it is often difficult to purchase the foods we want while avoiding the excess packaging. A few supermarkets have taken the approach of making the customer bring the packaging, and selling everything packaging free (an approach that used to be the norm). This is appealing to environmentalists, but also bargain hunters who will pay less without the plastic wrap.
In France, ‘Day by Day’ is a small chain selling 450 unpackaged products that are mostly dry goods. In Berlin, Original Unverpackt is also selling food without the bags. Of course if you don’t have a store that’s specifically committed to this, it’s still possible to cut back on packaging by bringing your own bags and shopping at places with less packaging, such as farmers markets or bulk food stores. This is relatively simple, but requires some changes to our habits that can help us avoid unnecessary waste. Like the tagline for the Strictly Bulk in Toronto, says: “because you don’t eat packaging.”
Photograph: Robin Hood Army
Food waste is a world-wide phenomenon, and so is food rescue. In India and Pakistan, a group called the Robin Hood Army, inspired by Refood International, has taken up the task of redistributing excess food from restaurants and catering. Started just last year, the organization already has a volunteer base of over 500 people in 13 cities (mainly recruited through social media). Right now the organization is reaching around 5,000 people. While food rescue isn’t the first option in the waste hierarchy, it is still one way of filling in the gaps in the food system. These individuals are taking action to combat waste and hunger in their own cities.
Read more on the the Robin Hood Army: