Community Fridge – Leave Whatever You Can, Take Whatever You Need

Photo: Sara Đuka / WWF Adrija

We have to ask you to pay special attention to this text at the very beginning. Take a moment and think about how much food you threw away during the previous week or month and what type of food usually goes stale in your fridge. Research conducted in Serbia indicates that we buy more food than we need, which is why a part of it, in fact as much as 35 kg per person per year, ends up in waste bins.

On the other hand, it is quite normal to feel uncomfortable when throwing away food. If you have not yet had a suitable place to dispose of surplus food that would meet the urgent needs of vulnerable groups, now there is a solution devised by Emilija Bojić and Tamara Stojković from the “Community Fridge” initiative.

They’ve got the idea of a community fridge after learning that waste from the food and textile industries has a very negative impact on the climate. The amount of such waste is just incredible. Globally, some 1.3 billion tons of various foods are thrown away every year. Locally obtained data, determined by the research of the Environment Improvement Center, indicates that every person in Serbia throws away food worth 10,000 dinars a year. At the same time there is a significant number of people in our country who are starving. Tamara and Emilija managed to realize the opportunity to execute their idea of a community fridge as part of the WWF project “The climate remains on the young”.

Besides the environmental aspect of the project, these climate activists introduced a humanitarian element, giving a special significance to the initiative.

“Now we can redirect food that would otherwise end up in the waste to socially endangered groups. It is important to point out that when we throw away food, we throw away a piece of forest, river, or land. In addition, food that ends up in waste impairs the quality of the soil and emits greenhouse gases”, says Emilia.

It took as much as six months to install just one fridge, which was a total surprise to the two activists. Tamara says that there were many obstacles, from the initial research of the Law on Food Donations, searching for organizations and individuals who would support them, organizing volunteers, to informing the public about the fridge.

“As far as notification is concerned, we were most concerned about how we will inform end users, considering that they do not use social networks so much”, Emilija explains.

However, the initiative became known very quickly, and the endusers received information through the media and then spread it among themselves.

How did it all start?

Photo-illustration: Unsplash (Elevate)

Tamara and Emilija met at the WWF open competition “The climate remains on the young”. Tamara wanted to reduce waste from the food industry and Emilija from the fashion industry. They were united by the idea of Community Fridges and Wardrobes.

“We started with the fridge first because it is more difficult to install, mostly because of the legal regulations on food donations. From the beginning of the process, WWF has provided us with priceless mentoring that will be so important throughout our careers. The Belgrade Food Bank was among the first to recognize the potential and decided to help us without hesitation, both in practice and with numerous important tips. The same was done by the humanitarian organization June 28, which donated a refrigerator to us, while Dorćol Platz was kind enough to provide us with the spot. Thanks to Andrej Kolosov’s artistic contribution, the fridge was painted accordingly”, says Tamara.

The shared fridge is regularly replenished by the donations made by the Belgrade Food Bank and all the individuals with their food donations. Volunteers take daily care and keep the fridge clean, watching out not to issue any unsafe food. Such food is disposed of in compost.

Prepared by: Milena Maglovski

Read the story in the new issue of the Energy portal Magazine ELECTROMOBILITY.