A new initiative provides a place for locals to share leftovers, in a nod to the growing demand for action on food waste.

There is a small army of refrigerators waging war on discarded leftovers in Spain. From Galdakao, near Bilbao, a grassroots initiative dubbed the “solidarity fridge” provides a place for locals to share and recycle leftovers, in a nod to the growing demand for action on food waste.

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The fridge is the brainchild of the Galdakao Volunteer Association, led by impassioned resident Álvaro Saiz. The association has installed a refrigerator on the street, where locals, shops and restaurants can donate surplus food. Then anyone who wants to can help themselves to the donations. The simple initiative saves food from the landfill and creates community spirit. Organizers estimate that between 200 and 300 kg (~400-600 lbs) of food has already been recycled since the solidarity fridge’s launch in April. And the idea is catching on—already another fridge has been set up in the town of Murcia, 400 miles away, and Saiz says he’s gotten requests from others around the world looking to bring the initiative to their communities.

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Figures compiled by the House of Lords in the UK in 2014 reveal that the European Union collectively discards almost 90 million metric tons of food each year. Since June 2015, the French government has made it illegal for supermarkets to throw away or spoil edible food products. Now a pan-European petition calls on the EU to do the same. Food waste is a rising political issue, and the burgeoning solidarity fridge movement is a testament to increasing consumer awareness of food consumption and waste.

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Our Circular Hospitality trend in The Future 100 showcases a number of grassroots projects that have made recycling cool by designing menus based on surplus or discarded food. Now companies and brands are stepping up to the plate. British grocery giant Tesco plans to donate unsold food to UK-based food distribution charity FareShare, while frozen food brand Birds Eye is encouraging people to freeze their leftovers with its iFreeze campaign. The more mindful people become of their food consumption, the more they will welcome action from brands to help prevent waste.

Image source: Huffington Post