Easy and original ways to fight food waste

Summary

The European Union has declared 2014 European Year Against Food Waste. To support this initiative, the European Commission has funded FUSIONS (Food Use for Social Innovation by Optimising Waste Prevention Strategies), a project working towards a more resource-efficient Europe by significantly reducing food waste. Here are three ways to reduce food waste and save money.

20Août.
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Eat ugly

Supermarket customers generally look for perfect fruit and vegetables. This leads to a huge amount of waste: 300 tons of unsold products are thrown away each year, not to mention the fruit and vegetables which don’t meet the norms and have to be destroyed by producers, never even making it to the supermarkets. This observation has led French grocery chain Intermarché to launch a fun campaign named “Inglorious Fruit and Vegetables.” It encourages customers to buy malformed vegetables and fruit: these are separated from the conventionally beautiful ones and sold 30% cheaper. In addition, Intermarché offers soups and juices made from the inglorious fruit and vegetables to prove that they taste good. This campaign follows another French initiative, led by producers this time and called “Les Gueules cassées” (“the broken faces”), originally a reference to World War I veterans who were disfigured in combat.

Share your food

Love Food Hate Waste is a British campaign supported by various UK organisations. It is grounded in the observation that one of the main reasons for food waste is that we throw away food from our homes because it goes out of date. That is why the Scottish version of this project helped grocery chain Sainsbury’s, in partnership with Google, to develop an application called “Sainsbury’s Food Rescue” to help people find recipes to reuse these unpleasant ingredients instead of throwing them away. French start-up “Partage ton frigo” (“Share your fridge”) advocates the installation of fridges in public spaces, such as entrance halls. Their website and application help people sell or offer what they have in their fridge to strangers. German platform FoodSharing takes things to the next level: through the website, individuals but also retailers and producers can give out their surplus food to consumers for free.

And a growing number of initiatives combine food rescue with social support. Last Minute Market, for instance, is a project developed by students from the University of Bologna in Italy to recover unsold goods for use by charities. In France, food banks work on the same basis. French film Discount by Louis-Julien Petit is due to be released in October 2014: it tells the story of supermarket employees who see their jobs threatened by the installation of automatic tills, and choose to take action by setting up a solidarity grocery store where they sell the goods the supermarket throws away.

Sharing your food can also mean sharing it wide-scale: the Feeding the 5000 campaign for instance organises events where 5000 members of the public are given a free lunch using only ingredients that otherwise would have been wasted. DiscoSoupes – outdoor public events where people get together to cook unsold fruit and vegetables and then share a meal – have been held in France since 2012.

Use doggy bags

Doggy bags are containers that diners can request to take the remainder of their meal home. Although common in the United States, for instance, doggy bags are almost unavailable in some countries (like France) and requesting one would earn you a weird and angry look from your waiter. Yet, doggy bags are a very simple and efficient way to tackle the problem of food waste in restaurants. Consequently, some organisations, such as Stop Wasting Food in Denmark, have created partnerships with restaurants to provide them with bags in which customers can take the remainder of their meal home.

These ideas to curb food waste can easily become part of our daily routines. But the first step is awareness. In 2011, to raise public awareness of waste in general in preparation for the European Year Against Food Waste, the European Commission launched the Generation Awake campaign, with tips on reducing and reusing. This all-encompassing approach reminds us of Bea Johnson, the woman who generates almost zero waste. 

Photo © S1001 via shutterstock