As food waste becomes a growing concern around the world, the first community fridge has been launched in London.
Based in Brixton, the public enterprise invites anyone with spare food to donate to the fridge – and food can then be taken by those in need.
The fridge is a space where anyone can leave food, and anyone can take it. Local businesses, those that work in the food industry, traders, and even residents are being encouraged to add their spare food to the fridge in order to cut down on food waste, and also to boost sharing within the community.
It has been named The People’s Fridge, and is set up in the Pop Brixton outdoor space which is run by food stalls and independent food businesses nearby. Those who are in need of the food are invited to come in and take it for free.
It’s a good start to tackling a serious problem. There are currently 8.4 million people in food poverty in the UK. This is equivalent to the whole of the population of London, just to bring it into perspective. It’s something that needs to be thought about seriously, and tackled head-on. While some community fridges have been trialled elsewhere in the UK, this is the first to be opened in the nation’s capital.
Around 7 million tonnes of food and drink are thrown away in the UK each year, much of which is still suitable for consumption. If we can cut this waste down by giving unwanted food to others who need it, we can work on both the problem of food waste and food shortage at once.
Community fridges allow business owners, including larger chains and food retail stores, to donate food that is leftover at the end of the day’s work or is otherwise surplus. This food can then be used by those in need rather than simply thrown away.
The fridge is all the more impressive for the fact that it was set up by a group of volunteers, with no thought of financial gain.
The group were from Impact Hub Brixton, a co-working space which houses small companies and freelancers. They decided to set up a crowdfunding campaign in order to finance the fridge. They set a target of £1,000 to be raised during a month, but managed to beat that target within just 3 days. Over the rest of the fundraising the total was taken to £2,000, enough to get the fridge established and begin advertising its presence for those who need to know about it.
‘We’d love to see more fridges in the area but we don’t have plans to launch any more at this stage,’ said a spokesperson for the group.
If it is a success – which, if other trials are to be taken as an example, it will be – then it could be easy to imagine other fridges springing up across London. Areas like Shoreditch and Camden, where the art and social scene is thriving, would certainly be candidates for new openings.
Companies such as Tesco have already given their support to fridges elsewhere in the UK, a pledge which is hugely useful for the fridges which are getting started off. If you don’t have a fridge near you, then you can still take part in food sharing with apps like Olio. Here, users are invited to offer their unwanted food and goods for free, and can similarly go out and pick up goods from others who have things that they want. Much like the fridge, it is open to anyone.