Coming to a fridge near you …
You may have seen that Scotland has a target to reduce food waste by 33% by 2025. Now that’s one challenging target, but one the humble fridge can have quite a significant impact on. What’s so great about a fridge then?
- We know our fridges can extend the life of many of the foods we buy. It’s also worth checking the Love Food Hate Waste website for tips on getting the temperature right, where in your fridge to store chicken, and much more.
- Your fridge is a great place to put your leftovers to save them for another day.
- And now fridges are becoming a great place to bring communities together to share unwanted food, reduce food waste from retailers, to pick up some tasty treats for free and to help the environment.
Community fridges are a number of things;
- A community space bringing people together to share food and educate the community around environmental issues
- A means of doing something constructive with food from retailers, businesses and individuals that may otherwise have gone to waste
- A way of individuals getting free food.
Community fridges vary in how they work. Many of them primarily take in unwanted (but still edible and within their use-by dates) food from retailers and manufacturers, but many also take in items from individuals. Some have freezers and a dry goods area too for items such as tins and bread that don’t need refrigeration. Individuals are welcome to take items on the understanding that they complete a log sheet specifying what they’ve taken. This is purely to monitor the project to be able to report on the success and find ways to improve the scheme.
The fridge on the Isle of Mull run by Mull & Iona Community Trust also provides a great way for holiday makers to make sure that the food they leave behind can be used by someone else – they can drop it off in the fridge before leaving the island. Others have also added areas where you can drop off clothes (Greening Gorebridge are piloting this) or household items (Pollokshields Development Agency) as well as food.
One question people often ask is how a community fridge differs to a food bank. According to Hubbub who run the community fridge network, food banks are a vital life line solution for people living in poverty, however, they explain that;
“In contrast, community fridges are set up to be a longer-term feature of a community, are not means tested and are open to all. They bring people together to see good food to be shared and eaten, instead of going to waste.”
If you’re interested in setting up a community fridge, we recommend speaking to Hubbub as they can provide support to help you set up your fridge and even access to free fridges. They also run networking sessions bringing together community groups running fridges to share ideas and learning. They held one in June hosted by Greening Gorebridge, where ideas were shared, participants got to see first-hand how a community fridge worked and were even lucky enough to be able to access some of the delicious goodies on offer (I thoroughly enjoyed my free M&S croissants for dinner that night).
So check out if there’s a fridge near you – and if so, go and visit to see what you can pick up. Remember you’re helping the environment as well as yourself. According to a report by Hubbub, an average of 584kg of food is distributed per month per community fridge. If that food hadn’t been eaten, it would have wasted the energy and resources used in the production, packaging, distribution and storing of the food – and it could potentially have gone to landfill – creating methane (25 times more damaging than carbon dioxide).
Fridges we’re aware of in Scotland so far include the following (please let us know if we’ve missed any). NB. Not all of these are members of the Hubbub Community Fridge network;
- Gorebridge - Greening Gorebridge
- Kirkcaldy - Greener Kirkcaldy
- Glasgow University - GUEST
- Glasgow - Pollokshields Development Agency (PDA)
- Innerleithen - You can Cook
- Mull - Mull & Iona community trust
- Glasgow - Strathclyde University Student union
- Paisley - The STAR project
- Peebles - Changeworks in Peebles (more for locals to swap excess garden produce)
- Dundee - Gate Church Carbon Saving Project
- Lauder - Works+
And we know of other groups working on plans in Stirling, Edinburgh and Jura, so hope to see many more community fridges popping up around the country.
Don’t forget to
- reduce food waste wherever you can (see the Love Food Hate Waste website for lots of tips),
- use your composter and/or council food waste collections for the unavoidable food waste,
- and get involved with your local community fridge if there is one nearby. Remember they are for everyone and you are helping the environment by using up food that could otherwise go to waste.