What Is A Community Fridge?
Food waste in the UK generates more than 25 million tons of CO2 emissions annually - more than Kenya’s entire annual emissions! A community fridge saves perfectly good food which is about to be wasted by supermarkets, and distributes it to the community, helping to reduce the amount of food waste going to landfill.
Community fridges operate on a ‘take what you need, leave what you can’ ethos. They are not food banks, which focus on feeding those in need. The main focus of a community fridge is reducing the waste and emissions related to food waste, but they can of course play a vital role in supplementing food needs for those experiencing food insecurity.
The Park Barn Centre has a community fridge, started by GBC’s Community Wellbeing team and staffed by volunteers, and has been a successful council-led venture. Zero Carbon Guildford is partnering with Mid Surrey Community Fridges to open another fridge in Guildford town centre.
Benefits Of A Community Fridge
Supermarkets in the UK throw away the equivalent of 190 million meals every year. Worse still, less than 10% of this wasted food is donated to people in need. Mid Surrey Community Fridges alone, with 8 fridges across Surrey, saves a whopping 7.5 tonnes of food from going to landfill every single week.
Unbelievably, if you were to count global food waste as a country, it would be the third largest emitter behind the US and China! A horrifying 10% of man made greenhouse gas emissions come from the largely avoidable problem of food waste. Around 30% of food is wasted between the production and sale stage, and a large part of this problem is the aesthetic standards implemented by supermarkets which make an assumption that ‘consumers’ (a term used to dehumanise people to make it easier for our failing
economics model to ignore the catastrophic impact of ‘infinite growth’ on our planet) won’t want slightly deformed or less attractive looking fruit & veg.
What Does This Project Achieve?
What Problem Is This Addressing?
Food waste is a HUGE problem, contributing around 10% of man made carbon emissions globally - and the gut punch is it's almost totally avoidable.
But the good news about an avoidable problem is that it can be fixed! A combination of public pressure to reverse supermarkets wasteful aesthetics policies, community farm to plate schemes, and good planning, freezing, and thinking outside the box at home can combine to make significant reductions in food waste. Check out our food waste blog for tips on cutting your food waste footprint.
So reducing food waste can have a massive impact on global emissions, and community fridges can play a part in this. But it’s crucial that at the same time shops start addressing their own responsibility toward climate mitigation and adaptation. Using ideology to define economics (which is more philosophy than anything resembling science) has led us to the point of planetary collapse, and we need to begin implementing fact-based policy that ensures we collectively reduce waste, with government, local authority, supermarkets, hospitality, and households all taking responsibility for addressing this avoidable problem.
Aside from the waste issue, community fridges can have a positive social impact. Despite being one of the wealthiest towns in the UK, Guildford has 2 areas ranked in the highest decile of food poverty, and 2 more areas in the 4th decile. The UK’s failure to tackle inequality over the last few decades means 4.3 million children in Britain live below the poverty line.
So whilst it’s not a food bank, a community fridge can help alleviate hunger; particularly for kids leaving school and returning to empty cupboards at home. But community fridges are for use by everyone, and can form part of Guildford’s waste reduction strategy as we strive to hit carbon neutrality by 2030.
How Does A Community Fridge Work?
In partnership with Mid Surrey Community Fridges we’ll be opening a community fridge in the centre of Guildford. You just need to check what hours we’re open and then pop along! We are aiming to keep the fridge operating throughout the day, 5 days a week (on renewable energy obvs!), but we can only do this if we have enough volunteers to keep it staffed, so get in touch today if you can help with this incredibly worthwhile project.
We’ll collect food from Guildford’s supermarkets to stock our fridge-freezer, but we will welcome all donations. If you’ve got surplus food which is edible and still in date bring it on down and we’ll find a good home for it!
What we receive from the supermarkets can be completely random. In the interests of fair distribution we will bag the products, and everyone who visits the community fridge will receive a bag. This stops the fridge being stripped as bare as Old Mother Hubbard’s cupboard before everyone has a chance to visit, and ensures the more appetising options are split more fairly among the community.
We hope to have the Guildford town centre community fridge up and running when we open our premises, (sign up to our mailing list to stay updated), so pop in for your bag, a chat, and find out what else we’re doing to lower waste and consumption across the borough.
** If you are struggling to feed yourself or your family it’s your right to take advantage of financial support. Have a look at the financial relief options available via your local authority. If you live in Surrey click here.