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Environment

Luana Carretto, Netherlands

Launa Carretto fights food waste - by making people taste their waste.

Luana Carretto, a 25-year old Dutch student, has decided to do her share in saving the climate by tackling the basis of everyday life: food.

The average European consumer tosses out 100 kilograms of food a year - that's not just scraps and leftovers, but food that could have still been eaten. Bakers dump bread every night, and supermarkets discard whole packages of fruit because one item has a tiny black spot.

This all adds up to 1.3 billion tons of food thrown away every year across the world. We could feed everyone who's hungry in the world with that - twice over.

What's more, our throwaway culture wastes resources, such as water, soil and energy. That harms the climate - the carbon footprint of wasting food is estimated at 3.3 billion tons of carbon dioxide equivalent released into the atmosphere per year.

Start at your doorstep

All of this bothered Luana so much that she decided to ask grocery stores in her neighborhood whether they could collect the food they would usually throw away each day, and give it to her instead. Within an hour, 10 shops were on board.

"I didn't even have a plan, I didn't know what I would do with it," Luana says. "I actually expected they would all turn me away - but in the end, 90 percent of them said yes. They were all happy the food wouldn't go to waste," Luana says.

But what to do with all of this perfectly fine food that was saved from the bin? Luana wanted to stay local. So she invested in a bicycle carrier and started delivering the food to people in need in her area.

Eventually, Luana and friends founded a group called "Taste before you waste." Now, Luana and 35 volunteers work seven days a week to pick up 350 kilograms of food that would otherwise end up in the trash bin.

Making people taste their waste

And they don't just give this food to people in need, they also want to change the mindset of people who have enough food on the table - so much, in fact, that a lot of the food ends up in the trash.

"I really feel like we lost connection to our food," Luana says. "We are so far away from the food production chain we don't really see how much effort it takes to produce an apple, so it makes it much easier for us to throw it away. We only relate to it with money. Plus, everything is wrapped in plastic, we don’t smell and touch and taste our food anymore and so we're not sure if something is still good, unless an expiration date tells us. But before we throw something away, we should just try it first."

And that's exactly what Luana does: She makes people taste their waste. Luana and her team hand out free food that would have ended up in the bin at food markets. They also organize community dinners, where they cook "wasted food" for their neighbors to show them how much you can still do with food you thought was bad.

Most are surprised how delicious the food is. And even better, it's all free - and good for the climate.

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