Image: Gemma Ward with all of the cake, photographed by Tim Walker. Image source.
According to The State of Waste, Australians throw out $8 billion worth of edible food every single year — which equates to 4 million tonnes, or just over 5 average fridges per household. In other words then, Australia could totally turn to Denmark for inspiration, where food waste has reportedly been reduced by 25% in just five years. According to The Independent, a lot of this is with the help of one woman, Selina Juul, whose organisation Stop Spild Af Mad (‘Stop Wasting Food’) has been credited by the Danish government as a key driver behind tackling food waste.
Juul moved from Russia to Denmark when she was 13 and says she was shocked by the amount of food available and wasted at supermarkets. “I come from a country where there were food shortages, we had the collapse of infrastructure, communism collapsed, we were not sure we could get food on the table,” she explained. It is this kind of conversation that has prompted Maria Noel, communication officer of Danish retail company Dagrofa, to proclaim, “[Juul] basically changed the entire mentality in Danemark”.
1 Million Women points out that, as a result of Juul’s efforts, the Danish government has become incredibly proactive in reducing the nation’s overall food waste. Part of the way that Danish supermarkets have been able to help reduce food waste is by refusing to offer bulk buy discounts that entice shoppers to over buy. In replacement of this model, Danes use a food waste app that allows them to cheaply buy food just before stores close. Implementing pop-up food waste markets and dedicated supermarkets for food that is past its best-before date, the government has also allowed people to buy a bag of slightly older produce for just a few dollars.
Most importantly, Danish initiatives such as these have helped Danes to change their mindset and relationship with food altogether. It creates a new value system in which people truly understand the worth of their food. And it broadens the possibilities when it comes to shopping for said food as well — rather than buying more than they need in order to save, last year’s launch of the nation’s first ever food surplus supermarket meant consumers could access similar savings of up to 50% off and buy only what they will use right away. It is this sort of progress that we could and should be seeing in many other nations as well — Australia included.
Via The Independent
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