In Lüdwigsburg, southwestern Germany, there’s an assortment of Christmas goodies up for grabs: five packets of organic muffin mix, five packets of cookie mix, and three sweet-filled advent calendars.
Meanwhile, 55 pizzas are going in Jena, as are a kilo of bananas in Munich, a packet of instant tea in Dresden, a crate of beer in Duisburg – left over from a birthday party – and a traditional German Christmas cake in Neu-Isenburg.
In total, 55 baskets of food are being offered to any takers in 25 German cities, and people can find them on the brand new internet platform www.foodsharing.de, whose operators hope to radically change the way people think about food.
Spurred by the alarming statistic that the average German throws away 80 kilos of food every year, the site offers users the chance to advertise unwanted provisions for others to use.
Both society and the environment should benefit. Those struggling to put food on the table will gain access to a variety of foodstuffs completely free of charge. At the same time, less food will be sent to landfill sites, where its decomposition can produce toxic gases.
The basic concept, according to the website, is simple: “People share food. No money should exchange hands here, because sharing also has an ethical dimension. We want to reinstate the spiritual, non-material value of food, because it is more than just a commodity.”
The website is free to use: providers give details of their offerings and location, and recipients can get in touch via the website to make collection arrangements.
Anything can be offered, and for users there’s a search function to locate desired goods. The website is due to become more user-friendly next year: a smart-phone app is in the pipeline, which will even include maps to guide people to the food (with cycling routes highlighted, as one would expect).
The only rule: “Don’t pass anything on to others which you wouldn’t eat yourself.”