Would you like to reduce your carbon footprint by decreasing food waste which accounts for 30% of all the resources used in farming i.e. water, energy, fertilisers? And also reduce the production of methane if food scraps go to landfill? Methane is 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas.
Maybe you think you can’t because you don’t have space for a compost bin or you live in an apartment. But there is a way for you to do this.
A couple of years ago a young couple in Sydney started an organisation to help address the problem of food waste and help all those renters and apartment dwellers play a larger role in reducing the human environmental footprint. So they started the ShareWaste project to enable people with waste they couldn’t recycle (donors) to give it to those (hosts) who wanted more compost for their gardens.
ShareWaste is a community project which not only helps to close the food loop, but enables people to better connect within their community, share skills and resources. Its website and apps provide an easy way for donors and hosts to sign up and connect via an interactive map. The map shows hosts and donor around Australia, Asia, Europe, Iceland and North America. The site is also a social platform to promote sustainable life choices and projects, community gardening, growing your own food and demonstrating examples of good practice and community or sustainability projects.
Eliska and Tom built ShareWaste in their spare time without expecting it to grow as much as it has – to nearly 5000 people so far. They are the only service/initiative doing what they do and offering it for free. They’d love to see the platform thrive, grow and be useful to as many communities and people as possible. So far their only marketing has been users’ testimonials and the enthusiasm of supporters on social media.
Donors are not only apartment dwellers, but also residents owning a bokashi system or people who are travelling and are looking for a place to drop off their organic waste ecologically. Compost hosts include residents with their own composting system or a worm farm, community gardens and people with chickens. ShareWaste is looking for more community garden hosts since they play an important part in environmental education and connecting the community. Some of ShareWaste’s most active hosts are people who run their own workshops in sustainability or people who simply need a lot of organic material for their garden.
Some relationships between users and donors grow into friendships where, as well as exchanging organic waste, people also small share gifts, produce from their gardens, eggs or invite each other for a cuppa etc.
This year, ShareWaste launched the Compost Collective in New Zealand and a collaboration with Auckland Council where six hundred sign-ups were made in the first 4 months. A newspaper report highlights this remarkable response.
Their community in the US is growing and they have been approached by a council there to develop a customised version.
Eliska and Tom plan to make their current app a bit more social by adding some new features and they wish to enable users to measure the amount of waste they have diverted from landfill.
To read some of the inspiring gardening and waste sharing stories go to their blog.