Concept of Foodsharing
Foodsharing is an initiative that is dedicated to the fighting of the food waste. Volunteers and activists of the movement try to ‘save’ surplus or spoilt and unwanted food from small and large businesses as well as from private household. The major aims of the movement are both to fight of daily food wastage and raising awareness of this global issues in the society. Besides those educational and consumption goals, the establishment is committed to the sustainable environment that includes banning the supermarket of plastic over packaging!
As it was mentioned earlier the members of the Foodsharing is doing it voluntary based and free of charge. Since the community is non-commercial and independent project it should serve as an open source and accessible platform to the people who would like to make a contribution into the saving food globally!
How it all started?
The Foodsharing initiative was launched in Berlin in early 2012. The initial idea to create a platform against food waste independently came up to the different people: Valentin Thurn (director of the film Taste the Waste), and Sebastian Engbrocks (supervisor of the film's social media campaign) in the summer of 2011. Later on the design students Thomas Gerling and Christian Zehnter, and television journalist Ines Rainer, independently came up with a similar idea. Consequently, the common project is the result of the joint collaboration of all these individuals.
Later on it grown into the international movement, in particular Germany, Austria, Switzerland and other European countries with overall number of registered people around 250 000 and among of them permanent volunteers are more than 60 000 people. On the regional scale those people are establishing the local cooperation with the supermarkets or bakeries and examples of even national collaboration is possible like with the Bio Company.
Key figures about the food waste
As it was mentioned earlier, approximately 1.6 billion tonnes (1/3 of all food produced globally) – gets lost or wasted every year. That number is equal to the weight of 270 Great Pyramids of Khufu! Except the impressive mass, the economic loss is also huge around $1.2 trillion (68 % for industrialized countries and 32 % for developing countries). Another aspect is ecological impact: FAO estimates the carbon footprint of food waste is 3.3 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent per year. It includes both oil, diesel and other polluting fuels that is used in the food production process. Furthermore, the greenhouse gases are also emitted by food waste itself, that according to the FAO that is measured in 8% of global greenhouse gas emissions.
Experts predict that the amount of food that is wasted each year will rise by a third till 2030, when 2.1billion tonnes will either be lost or thrown away, equivalent to 66 tonnes per second! At the same time, we have more than 800 million people who are suffering from hunger or lack of nourishment, thus with this amount of food lost or wasted it is more than enough to feed them all.
But how and why all this shocking enormous figures appears at all? Typically, food waste occurs at the consumer level, such as in restaurants, cafes, hospitals, and homes and differs a bit in various countries. First it is important to point out the main causes in developed countries, which are:
- high consumer ‘appearance quality standards’;
- extra costs for the using or re-using than simple discarding products;
- consumerism attitude, the larger quantities are stored in the supermarket the better which results in the high probability of reaching the “sell-by” date;
- general vision of abundance of food and disposable income leads to the fact that people are not cautious and allow to throw the leftovers away!
Secondly, other reasons are present in developing countries that are more connected with the food loss rather than food waste, in particular:
- harvesting crops too early before they are acceptable;
- poor storage facilities and infrastructure;
- lack of processing facilities in order to process and preserve the fresh products;
- not appropriate market establishments that can provide enough storage and retail conditions.
Finally, the common cause for the whole globe is discarding of the ‘dangerous’ food that is not meeting at least minimum food safety standards and is unsafe for human consumption.
Time to take actions!
Apart from joining the Foodsharing community (if available in your country or you might bring the initiative there) and helping in the fight for the food waste we can make changes on the personal level. Firstly, try to buy local food with a shorter supply chains, secondly plan your diet smartly with the usage of the leftovers, do regular revisions in your supplies (it will help not only to save some food but also money). Educate yourself and your environment about food safety in order to take proper actions! In addition, check the expire date regular and throw the food when it is really not possible to eat or threaten your health. If possible, do composting at home as according to the FAO, home composting has the potential to divert up to 150 kg of food waste per household annually!
Besides the Foodsharing movement you can check and try some other ideas. For instance, for residence of Germany the Tafel (charitable aid organisations) that distribute food that is no longer used in the economic cycle and would otherwise be destroyed to those in need or give it away for a small fee. Similar organizations can be found in the number of European countries as well (France, Austria, Spain, Iceland). The major difference with Tafel that it is helping someone in need, Foodsharing is focused on saving food, without taking into account the financial-social circumstances of the recipient.
The other significant differences to another type of food saving method dumpster diving (taking non-spoiled food from large commercial, residential, industrial and waste containers) Foodsharing is aimed to first prevent throwing away food to those containers. The other practice is to use modern technologies to spread the word as for example, UK retailer Tesco does by using the software platform FareShare FoodCloud to notify local charities about surplus food. Significant steps must be taken as well on the national level like in France, where it is illegal for supermarkets to discard unused food, and they are required to make regular donations. There are even supermarkets and stores that are selling discarded or out of dated food, as in Germany's SirPlus, or Denmark's WeFood, while putting about half or even 70 % price of the regular supermarkets.
It is getting obvious nowadays that food wastage problems taking more and more attention as the situation escalates, however, by joining above mentioned initiatives and organisations it is possible to make an enormous change! Just important to remember that it’s not an easy task, and no single country or entity can solve the entire problem on their own. Hence, collaboration and usage of the best practices worldwide can be a solution!