Fruits, bread and vegetables are the most wasted items in any household. According to a report by the Spanish Ministry of Agriculture, Food and the Environment, approximately 8 million tons of food are wasted in Spain each year — making it the seventh highest food waster in the EU.
A study by the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization revealed that around 42 percent of food waste in Europe takes place in people’s households, 60 percent of which can be avoided by better practices. In Spain, 1.43 million tons of food are thrown in the trash annually, according to the ministry report.
The Yo No Desperdicio [I Don’t Waste] website and mobile app, launched in November 2015 and February 2016 respectively, seek to present an alternative to this massive problem.
This platform aims “to promote alternative ways of responsible and sustainable consumption, and to make us rethink our role as consumers, with the goal of reducing food waste at home,” Mari Cruz Martín, the project’s coordinator, tells HuffPost Spain.
The platform allows the exchange of both cooked foods and raw items, as long as the products are in decent condition and have not surpassed their expiry date.
““If you keep food from being thrown away, we all win.”
There are currently 420 registered users on the platforms from 35 Spanish provinces, and Cruz Martín says “the number of users keeps growing.”
The platform offers a very simple food-sharing method. Users log into the website or app and post an ad describing the food they want to offer, complete with the item’s name, picture capturing its current state, portion, location and an expiration date. Both parties then arrange for the free delivery of the products.
“If you keep food from being thrown away, we all win,” Cruz Martín says.
The Yo No Desperdicio initiative is the brainchild of the Prosalus NGO, a group that for the past 30 years has worked to promote, protect and guarantee human rights to food, water, health and sanitation.
“Food waste is among the many causes of hunger, even if many people are not aware of it,” says Cruz Martín.
One of the project’s main goals is to create awareness in the community about food waste. “The world throws away a third of everything it produces, and people are not aware that this waste has a huge impact on the world’s nutrition, and on the availability and the prices of products in other countries,” says Cruz Martín.
While the project is grounded in acknowledgment of the global food waste challenge, it ultimately seeks to “create a citizen network that is committed to responsible consumption and to giving products a second chance,” Cruz Martín explains.
Cruz Martín admits that users have been slow to trust the platform, but she is confident that with time, the food sharing system will stop sounding like “science fiction” to the masses.
More than 100 pounds of food have been exchange so far, including dairy, fruits and vegetables, sodas, dried fruit, eggs and canned foods. This may sound like a modest amount, compared with how much food is thrown away by households every year, but “if we all start to make small changes in our daily routines, we will be able to change these numbers,” says Cruz Martín.
This piece originally appeared on HuffPost Spain and has been translated into English.
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