Spain’s Solidarity Fridge Cuts Down on Food Waste and Gives Back

Galdakao Mayor Ibon Uribe (left) and volunteer Javier Goikoetxea pose in front of the Solidarity Fridge, Spain's first communal refrigerator, shared by citizens in Galdakao, a city outside Bilbao. Photo courtesy of Lauren Frayer for NPR

I was listening to NPR yesterday and I heard the greatest story. In the small Basque town of Galdakao the town has established a communal refrigerator.

It sits on a city sidewalk, with a tidy little fence around it, so that no one mistakes it for an abandoned appliance. Anyone can deposit food inside or help themselves.

The Solidarity Fridge, as they call it, was the genius idea of Alvaro Saiz, who dreamed it up during Spain’s economic crisis while running a food bank for the poor. He saw people searching dumpsters for food, and felt saddened at the indignity of it. Knowing they were finding perfectly good food from restaurants and homes in the dumpster Saiz decided to petition his town to put a refrigerator in an open space in town where anyone could leave food, and anyone could take it.

The best part about the story to me was the ease at which the town accepted Saiz’s petition. They knew this idea would help those in need in their neighborhoods and so they gave the refrigerator special legal status to avoid any possible lawsuits if someone got sick from food found in the fridge, and that was that. It’s a simple idea that has helped cut down on restaurant and household food waste while simultaneously giving food to those who really need it.

It saddens me to think how hard it would be to get something like this going in Philadelphia, or anywhere in the U.S. really, but you know what…I think I might try.

Full story found on NPR
Also check out this related story on a website in Germany that helps cut down on food waste.