‘Free’ Supermarket Opens to Cut Food Waste

Tucked away in an inner city suburb of Melbourne is a grocery store with a difference—there are no prices.

“The idea was to make a difference in the food waste crisis,” says Inconvenience Store Project Coordinator Astrid Ryan.

The Inconvenience store is a concept brought to life by not-for-profit restaurant, Lentil as Anything, which has three vegan restaurants in Melbourne and one in Sydney.

The supermarket is inside the restaurant and its philosophy is pretty simple; the food is donated and the customers can pay as much or as little as they want or are able to.

The store is about providing produce that people can take home.

“We wanted to provide people with access to nutritious fruit and vegetables which when people are in financial crisis or difficult situations it’s probably the thing they have the least access to,” says Ryan.

The bread is donated from nearby bakeries that often have a surplus of leftover goods. Other produce comes from nearby fresh food markets and even major supermarkets like Aldi.

NTD Photo
It is hoped small projects like this will help people rethink their wastage. Consuming for a cause. (AP/Screenshot)

The items may look a bit odd or just may be a tad old. Items past their use-by dates are not used.

“Big fan of the concept. I think it’s shocking the amount of food waste that we throw out,” says one shopper.

“We’ve been wanting to reduce our food waste a lot over the last year I would say,” says another shopper at the store.

There’s already a desire to expand.

It’s a project that’s already having an impact on local food wastage but according to Associate Professor Karli Verghese from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) it’s only making a small difference in terms of Australia’s total food wastage.

“In Australia it’s estimated that up to 20 billion Australian dollars worth of food is wasted along the supply chain.”

And with almost half of that being items being thrown out at the home it’s hoped small projects like this will help people rethink their wastage.

“The more people who do food waste and food rescue projects the better,” says Ryan.

Consuming for a cause.

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