Author: Kaylah Borham
Watching the War on Waste by on ABC has really brought to people’s attention the reality of the situation in regards to how much food waste the average Australian household loses and it is in excess of $1,000 annually (probably very similar stats in other developed countries). Now I’m sure there are a lot better things we could be spending our money on over the year but it isn’t recognised because we’re all so oblivious to the small amounts we waste each time.
Australia has companies such as Ozharvest, food bank and Secondbite however these are all large donation food banks that usually rely on food drives from communities, schools and local businesses. The food drives would in my experience usually only happen a couple of times a year but let me ask you, how much food do you find you throw away at the end of a week that has not been used? Or you’re about to head off on holiday and you’re living off 2 minute noodles because you don’t want to buy food prior to going away or you have bought surplus and find you need to throw too much out on the last day before you leave as you turn off the fridge and leave the door ajar?
I live with my parents, and I find that in a household of three a fair portion, maybe slightly less than but still nearly 15% of our fresh produce may be wasted on any given week. Usually those living in a city or urban area tend to throw away 6% more than those in rural areas. Is this due to the ease and convenience of having food so close and accessible or it could be to do with those in rural areas having a better understanding and knowledge of the waste of food and how to better use what they have. It is estimated that households make up for 50% of the annual cost of food wastage which is a big effect to us and the Australian economic pocket and the same goes for most developed countries as well.
Now there’s two ways to combat this: be more mindful and buy less and meal plan more which should be everyone’s first go to. However another idea is to have a place to put surplus food that you know you won’t use before it goes off.
It has been shown to work in countries like the UK where there are local Community fridges /pantries where people can place their food that they won’t use or need but can be easily given or swapped to someone else either in need or someone that will use it well in the coming week.
The concept is simple, have a local fridge/pantry within a community where people can come along between 9am and 9pm and drop off the items (small or large quantities) and local small businesses like cafes or bakeries can donate their produce to the fridge/pantry and others either in need, lower income families, or simply someone who has donated but finds they might be able to make use of that onion can take the items to reduce the amount of waste all around.
If we look at the statistics of the homeless and less well-off families in each community it would be interesting to find how everyone may be able to help them out simply by providing a couple of items such as vegetables to fill out a meal or some tinned items. If we can do this small thing in our households each week and help out a family it might just alleviate some of the stress, hunger and struggles they go through just to make ends meet.
The benefit to this scheme is that it’s quick, easy, cheap to run as it is usually done by volunteers and able to help out so many people and give so many people/businesses an avenue to reduce waste.
The how to is coming – Initially there would need to be an initiative and to work with councils in the community and work out where the best location would be. I’ve not been able to find any in Australia however the company that runs them in the UK is Hubbub, there is a how to document I’ve requested because I feel like it is something we should look into.