The world is a huge place, imagine the possibilities if we could replicate great ideas to help the environment in our local communities. I have been wanting to write about this topic for a long time, ideas that I have seen/heard/thought.

I hadn’t written about this until now, because I always felt that it would be better to try them first and then share my experience, but let’s face it, as much as I want, I can’t do it all, time is limited. So, I’ve decided to start sharing these ideas here, hoping they inspire some people out there to give them a go and make a difference in their local communities. We can all help the planet in different ways, even from planting a tiny seed in someone’s mind (it was my conclusion anyway).

Today’s idea is about sharing food with the community. I’ll write about two great initiatives I have come across.

The concept

I think we are all very familiar with the idea of sharing food with friends, family and neighbours, however this concept of creating a small space in local communities where people can donate surplus of any food and share it with anyone locally is not that common.

One of the key purposes of this idea is to reduce food waste which is a major issue. In Australia alone, it is estimated that we waste 4.000.000 tonnes of food every single year (source).

Food waste is major contributor to climate change, it generates a lot of carbon emissions from production to consumption –  I wrote a post about the topic here if you want to know more.  And I have said before, wasting perfectly edible food in a world where people go to sleep hungry is just wrong on so many levels.

The Community Fridge

This was the first project I heard about this topic and it was created by Amanda in New Zealand. As she explains in her blog, this is not a new concept, in her case she was inspired by an initiative called “The solidarity fridge” which was created in Spain.

Amanda ended up applying for funding from Auckland council and managed to start this wonderful idea after several weeks of planning.

The concept is simple, anyone can donate a surplus of food and anyone can take it. They created a set of rules of the type of food that they accept (like fruit, vegetables, tinned, dry food, sandwiches, biscuits etc) and cannot accept (unsealed/half-eaten food, raw meats, mouldy food etc).

This project runs with the help of volunteers who check the fridge on daily basis to ensure it is clean and the food is safe to eat.

Amanda has done a great work documenting the experience in her blog, so I am leaving you with the links here with all the information:

Love Food Hate Waste Project: The Community Fridge

The Community Fridge: 1 Year On

She also created an information pack if you are interested in setting up a fridge in your community. Send her an email to communityfridgeakl@gmail.com. You can also find her in social media, I actually started following Amanda on Twitter (@AmandaWasteFree) several years ago and that’s how I knew about her project.

Food is Free

I learned about this project recently while attending to a local sustainability festival. In one of the stalls, I met a lady who decided to set up a cupboard in her front yard where people could donate any excess of food. Her project is called “Food is Free: Ringwood East”

That day she told us that they simply started with a cupboard that they got for free on Gumtree.com, they painted it and added few touches to make it work. Later they realised that birds were eating the food, so they added the mesh to prevent that from happening.

She was so excited talking about her little project that after the festival, I went to see it as it was nearby.  Unlike the community fridge, this cupboard is located in a suburban street, but something great about her place is that she is located next to a popular local park  and many people go there for walks.

Free is Food Ringwood East

Free is Food Ringwood East

She mentioned sometimes is full, sometimes is a bit empty, and things change quickly. That day I took the photo, they had some vegetables and some fresh herbs on the little shelf they created next to the cupboard.

It seems at the beginning, she was aiming to avoid food waste by sharing produce from local gardeners, but later she realised people were donating all type of foods.

When I discovered this, I didn’t know that there is actually a worldwide movement called “Food is Free” which encourage people to connect with neighbours, plant front yard gardens or share harvest.

They focus more on growing vegetables in the community, but they also mention setting it up tables (or cupboards as the project above) to share food locally.

I checked their website and they have videos and information if you want to know more:

Food is Free – Resources

“If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.” – J.R.R. Tolkien

That’s it for today. If you end up implementing any of these ideas, please let me know, I am happy to share any information from your experience. I’ll keep posting more ideas in the future.

Are you a social media user? Let’s connect:

Thanks for reading,

Diana