During my hectic week in freshers, my flatmates and I were invited down a cobbled path into a small festival where we painted rocks, created bags out of old shirts and had the delight of tasting Beetroot Humous made from ‘surplus food’. We got chatting to the girls who told us all about the Food-sharing organisation. They are a volunteer-run branch who aim to eradicate food waste by redistributing surplus food. As we devoured the vegan apple flap jacks made by the girls, they explained how they collect waste food from small shops and businesses and redistribute to people in need of food, this can range from hungered students to homeless people.
Many people, mislead by the ‘sell by date’ on food throw away large amounts of perfectly edible food. BBC clearly states on its website that ‘Best before’ is about quality rather than safety.’ If this could be printed on packaging next to the sell by date people would save huge amounts of food; most food is edible and still tastes good until the ‘use-by’ date. However, people usually look at an item of food, notice its past the sell-by date, pull a disgusted face, then toss it into a bin. On average 7m tonnes (47%) of food waste comes from household waste. As a student gradually slipping into my over-draft, my friend and I seize any opportunity to delve into the ‘reduced section’ of Tescos, where we stock up on peppers, courgettes and croissants for under £1.50. Wasted food is not just from things that have past the date is can also be of amazing quality; millions of bananas are thrown to waste in Ecuador just because they do not meet the shape and standard to be shipped to Britain.
Recently I was invited by the food sharers to attend a talk on sustainability for European Waste Week. This was an amazing opportunity and I learnt about the overall importance of how food waste can help the environment on a major scale. Preventing food waste from ending up in landfill, reduces carbon emissions which results in healthy, clean air. It’s so easy to save food in the same way its easy to switch of the light and save energy. People can easily complete small tasks but not many are aware to do so as it wouldn’t cross your mind on a day-to-day-basis. One easy way to help the food sharing community would be asking employers of a shop of cafe you work in about donating their surplus food to our organisation.
During the talk on sustainability, I was introduced to he idea of ‘dumpster diving’. This literally is what the names says, diving into dumpsters. Florian, who volunteers with Glasgow Uni Climate Action, begun talking about dumpster diving. He started off buy offering out mugs he’d grabbed from his last excursion to the bins. Dumpster diving is a completely legal activity where people collect food that has been thrown out by supermarkets, from sell by dates passing. To me this seems very logical. Its like taking a wee trip to a charity shop except you can also grab food and you don’t have to pay!
Sarah, a member of the team and says: ‘Volunteering with food sharing has opened my eyes to the true extent of how wasteful we all are -often without realising- but has also showed me how easy it is to change that. It has certainly encouraged me to be more thoughtful and careful with my food choices. We are creating an open, friendly, sharing community with a sustainable future here in Glasgow, and we welcome as many people to get involved as possible!’
The food sharing group is a great, logical idea that spreads the word and makes people aware, which is what we need. They are currently looking for volunteers and roles ranging from food collectors to artists to photographers – everyone and anyone is needed and welcome to join!
Anyone can email [email protected] to find out more/ask for a volunteer application and be sure to like our Facebook group ‘Food Sharing Glasgow’
P.S. Make sure you grab a free loaf of bread from our stall outside the University Library on Wednesday 🙂
Article by Isabelle Hunt-Deol
Illustration by Clare Patterson