After watching the movie Just Eat It (see my previous post on this movie) a few members from Sustainable Communities were motivated to go out and see for ourselves what is being thrown away. We were fortunate to find an experienced freegan in fellow Sustainable Communities member Steven. So armed with a knowledgeable guide, a torch, gloves and bags we hit the streets on a Sunday night.
From just two supermarkets and in under 20 minutes we collected a car full of food including bread, cheese, milk, coke cans (cans had a tiny dent in them), grapes, mangoes, vegetables, cake, cocoa pops (box a bit dented) and 7 bags of hot cross buns as well due to Easter being around the corner. Fruit and vegetables were all in plastic bags and the other perishables all had time left on the use by dates.
There was more than enough to cater the food and drinks at the next night’s meeting – and we even got flowers for the table.
The sheer waste of all this food and packaging is astounding. So the more people out there saving this from going to landfill the better. All the land, water, fossil fuels and other inputs that went into growing the food, processing it and delivering it to a supermarket is not wasted. Also food that decomposes in landfill produces methane which is a potent greenhouse gas. So many negative consequences from our wasteful system. Not to mention all the hungry people that could be amply fed with this food.
Ideally in the future of course there won’t be any of this waste which will need to come through a change in policies and social norms so that this sort of waste is no longer acceptable or legal. France for instance is taking a positive step in the right direction with recent laws banning supermarkets from throwing away or destroying unsold food (1).
On a side note, as Steven pointed out, while dumpster diving can be a good way to get food it does mean you can end up with a lot more processed unhealthy food. So another way to make good use of free food that is other wise wasted is to forage locally for fruits and nuts. Goji berries and Pistachios in photos below were foraged on the day by Steven and enjoyed by all at the meeting that night.