Research tells us that an astonishing five million tonnes of perfectly edible food get thrown away every year, and incredibly it’s worth around £15 billion. To put this into perspective, the wasted food would fill 9 Wembley Stadiums, 100 Royal Albert Halls or 4,000 Olympic sized swimming pools. An area almost the size of Wales would be needed to produce the food and drink currently wasted. If that land was used to build houses, almost 4.7 million detached properties would fit onto it.
But how can we do our bit for the environment?
Merton Street Mosque shows us exactly how it can be done.
Banbury is a historic market town along the River Cherwell in Oxfordshire. In November 2018 the main Mosque of this small town launched a Community Fridge project to prevent perfectly good food from being thrown away.
Local residents, often lovingly referred to as Banbarians, can collect provisions such as pastries, bread, fruit, spices and vegetables nearing their sell by date for absolutely no charge whatsoever, regardless of economic, social or ethnic background. The project owes huge thanks to funding from Hello Fresh, the international meal-kit company, and support from Cherwell’s Sanctuary Housing Association through the “Community Investment Fund”.
Supermarkets including Marks and Spencer, Tesco, and Waitrose, as well as the main production store of Hello Fresh, are amongst those who have redistributed produce from their local branches to the Community Fridge. The health and safety legalities of the project mean that donations can only be accepted from food suppliers. The Fridge has ample produce with deliveries being made nearly every day of the year.
This Community Fridge is located in the Merton Street Mosque car park and allows people to safely park their vehicles, to easily see what is available and to take whatever they need without limit, with no one to answer to, and complete anonymity.
The national reduction in food waste, ongoing since 2007, helped councils to save almost £70 million in 2015 alone. By sending less food to wastage centres, lower landfill charges are incurred and councils are able to spend more on the needs of the local population, such as road maintenance and local transport services.
So, not only does Merton Street Mosque show us how to look after the Earth we live on, but also how to make a place of worship accessible to all, regardless of race, religion or economic background.
By Huma Baig