"The Solidarity Fridge is a project to fight against food waste. 40% of the food products in the world don’t even get sold, whether it is due to less than perfect looks, not being part of the latest food trends, or being too close to the sell by date, the fact is that they just end up in the garbage." (excerpt from the Solidarity Fridge website).
It all started in Galdakao, Spain: "Galdakao, population 29,000, has been home to Spain’s first “solidarity fridge”, in which residents and restaurants can drop off leftover or unused food otherwise destined for the bin. Anything left in the fridge can be picked up by anyone who wants it. “I would guess we’ve saved between 200 and 300kg from the rubbish bin,” said organiser Álvaro Saiz. A typical day might see leftover lentils, a few sandwiches and unopened milk cartons left in the fridge.
The idea came about as Saiz and other members of the city’s volunteer association were reflecting on the sheer amount of food being thrown out by supermarkets. “We started to think that if even just one of their rubbish bins was replaced with a fridge, people could take advantage of these items.” After an online search revealed a network of shared fridges in Berlin, he said. “We realised we could do this – so we did.” (https://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/jun/25/solidarity-fridge-spanish-town-cut-food-waste-galdakao)
While inspired by the Berlin model, Saiz wanted to do a version more low-tech so that his elderly neighbors, who are not on the Internet, could access it. He pitched the idea to the Mayor who loved the idea and the city approved a small budget of 5,000 euros to pay for the fridge and an initial health safety study, as well as electricity and upkeep. Interestingly, from the start legal issues were taken into account: the fridge was granted a special independent legal status - so that the city can't be sued if someone gets sick.
There are a few rules:
"No raw meat, fish or eggs. Homemade food must be labeled with the date, and thrown out after four days. Members of Galdakao's volunteer association take turns cleaning out the fridge.
But otherwise, it operates largely on the honor system, and so far there's been no abuse. In fact, food rarely ends up staying a whole day - much less four." (http://www.dw.com/en/in-spain-a-shared-refrigerator-and-a-crusade-against-food-waste/a-18677642).
Local restaurants actively participate. "The fridge has also allowed local restaurants to alleviate guilt over their food wastage, said Álvaro Llonin of Topa restaurant. “Before we used to throw away a lot of food – and it was food that was fine to eat.” (https://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/jun/25/solidarity-fridge-spanish-town-cut-food-waste-galdakao). Individual households are also participating.
An interesting aspect, and "the beauty of the project, organizers say, is that no one knows how many people use it. Shame of poverty forces some people to visit the fridge at night, under the cover of darkness." (http://www.dw.com/en/in-spain-a-shared-refrigerator-and-a-crusade-against-food-waste/a-18677642)
The project has grown into creating a network of fridges and cities. There are now 9 participating cities in Spain.
- Reducing food waste while addressing hunger
- A simple, minimal technology + a group of volunteers + a few rules and a honor system with the support of the city.
- A communal system where restaurants, households and the city collaborate to successfully address food waste
- Respect of the individuals: You can go and get food without the shame of foraging in the bins, or even of being seen visiting the fridge.