Graphic designer, Selina Juul, immigrated to Denmark from Russia at the age of 13. Coming from a country with food shortages, she was shocked by the abundance - specifically the abundant waste - of food in her new country.
So she started a Facebook page. Just a simple page dedicated to sharing tips and ideas to help people reduce food waste in their homes and businesses.
It turns out, she was in the perfect setting to share her message. Taxes are high in Denmark, and people are always looking for ways to save money. In addition, the Danish people are very conscious of the environment. The country is also quite small, making it easy for messages, especially popular ones, to spread fast.
Given those conditions, the country was more than ready to tackle one of the biggest sources of waste for most developed countries: food waste.
That began as a simple Facebook page in 2008, exploded in popularity and has since grown to a full organization called Stop Spild Af Mad (which roughly translates to “Stop Wasting Food”). The organization is a non-profit consumer movement, dedicated to ending food waste in the country. It has been so successful that food waste across the entire country was reduced by 25% in just 5 years.
The movement has spurred a number of powerful initiatives and campaigns that have all contributed to a massive reduction in food waste.
Food waste pop-up shops where shoppers pay a flat rate for a reusable bag and can fill up on as much produce as they can carry - all produce is donated by grocery stores and is either nearing its sell-by date, or is damaged in some way, but still perfectly good to eat.
One of the largest grocery store chains has eliminated bulk buying discounts in favour of single item discounts to still offer great sales, without promoting over-buying.
Fun campaigns like “Eat Your UFOs” - UFO’s being “unidentified frozen objects” - and Sunday Leftover Tapas.
REFOOD, an organization dedicated to helping the food service industry (restaurants, cafes, etc.) reduce food waste.
Dedicated food waste reduction areas in grocery stores where consumers can find items at deep discounts that are nearing their sell by dates.
And those are just a few of the efforts that have helped Denmark become a world leader in food waste reduction. In fact, Denmark now has that highest number of food waste initiatives of any European country!
So, what can we learn from Denmark about reducing food waste? There are many initiatives, tips, campaigns and ideas we can be inspired by. But perhaps the biggest lesson is that one person really can make a difference. Selina Juul, you are a true FoodHero!