The foodsaving grassroots movement

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The foodsaving grassroots movement
How cooperative online structures can facilitate sustainable offline activism
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When you're fighting for a cause, you need tools that reflect your values. While venture capital-backed tools are seductive, especially at the beginning of your movement, they can be harmful in the long-term. This session shows how co-operatively owned, non-hierarchically built Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) provides a more sustainable, and equitable, solution.
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[Music] so I would like your attention for the food saving grassroots movement which is a lecture by Yanina hobbles team on Becca and Nick's Helen which will further introduce themselves thank you hello thanks for coming to
listen to our talk so we split it into
three parts the first part is me giving an overview about the issue of food
waste and for possible solutions for reducing it after that Yanina will show you how this works in practice in some communities and finally tilman will explain how carrot our food saving software works so to give you an introduction into the food waste problem on the planet today we have about a billion malnourished people which is a huge moral disaster hunger is killing more people than AIDS malaria and tuberculosis combined and this is in the context where a third of the food we produce on the planet is what goes to waste in some estimates it's up to 50% as well there's plenty of food to feed everybody that's hungry on the planet but what we've done is build a supply chain of food that maximizes profit and it normalizes waste we know how to live without food waste and subsistence farmers and households in sub-saharan Africa wasted almost nothing the why is food wasted there's apples that aren't round enough a box of eggs thrown out because just one egg is broken people enter into commercial contracts where they need to supply a certain amount and so they overproduced to make sure they don't lose out on the contract or the packaging is broken and the whole lot gets thrown away or the labels printed incorrectly and the food is fine but it gets thrown away this isn't just a moral disaster but also in ecological catastrophy there's huge emissions associated with food waste it's about 8 percent of global greenhouse gases associated with food waste after taking the food from farming going through
distribution and cooling production to then just throw it in a landfill site results in massive emissions of methane and carbon dioxide so the UN calculated that if food waste were represented as a
country it would be the third largest emitter of greenhouse gases behind China and the United States and it's not just the greenhouse gas emissions but a quarter of fresh water consumption is directed to food that's eventually wasted and land the size of China and the EU combined is what it would take to grow with this food as economic development in countries improves we actually end up with more consumer waste which get wasted at a more wasteful stage of the of the supply chain so how
do we solve this problem I'm going to look through four different approaches and see how they're doing so the first is got government and intergovernmental organizations this is now recognized as a huge topic at the at the levels of the
UN and the EU over the last ten years tens if not hundreds of millions of euros have been spent on this topic now the approach they take is to target measure and then act and the UN sustainable development goals that were launched in 2015 included gold 12.3 which is to have per capita global food waste at the retail and consumer levels by 2030 however this is not necessarily solving
the problem yet the second step of this to actually measure the food way is a very long progress so after years of discussions and papers and reports discussing what food or even waste is this year there was a UN speech announcing that the first reporting by member states is foreseen in 2022 at seven years after the goal was announced so if it takes that long just to measure the food waste how long will it take to actually act on it so there's been a EU reports and UN report from inside the organisations saying it's underfunded area there's a lot of output of policies knowledge resources technical tools working groups expert groups but very little tangible impact from a UN report this year says the impacts remain limited so it's not just about tackling
food waste through policies and measures but involving people in organisations so in France even outlawed food waste in 2016 but it's lacking the infrastructure for people to collect that food so I don't see food waste being sold from this situation in an office making
report the next approach is delicto
charities to solve it this is the common solution to fix problems which the state or the market isn't addressing so it seems like a good good type of organization that might solve food waste what they typically do is class surplus food or food that would be wasted and redirected into food banks or community cafes where poor people can access the food that they otherwise wouldn't get - this needs a whole network of professional food handlers and it's quite regulated requires a lot of training however this also has some problems so people don't want to live from charity there's a lot of stigma associated with receiving food if children are in the playground and their parents are getting their food from a food bank because they can't afford it this is a stigma for the child as well so people with dignity and independence and empowerment when they're sourcing their food there was a study in then in the Netherlands recently exploring emotions around food bank use and they found that people appreciated the food they were getting but they experience shame being at the bottom of the social hierarchy having to rely on handouts handouts of food and not an approach to solving this systemic poverty that
people suffer from the second problem is big charities have become very in twined with the state a recent two-year study into civil society found that charities are seen to have become part of the very system they were set up to challenge so government grants to charities have become government contracts to supply services and in the UK that's been law set up to prevent them criticizing government the charities are more accountable to their funders than the government and not the people in the communities involved in that so a lot of charities focus on the short term measures of impact the size the turnover and what they're missing out and this is what the report tells us connections with people and communities that what needed for long-term solutions everyone involved needs to have some power in the process I chatted to my sister about this the outcome is from the report and she's been working in the charity sector for 30 years and she laughed she's been hearing reports like this for her whole career but no action so I think we need to look beyond the charity sector and now I'll have a look into the private sector and see what's happening there so there's a startup to solve every problem
that we see now and food waste is associated with 143 billion euros of cost in the EU alone and so startups arrive to try and get some of that money as profit so the model startups is to attract venture capital get a lot of users and then find a business model to capture value from those users and there's been tens of millions of funding put into startups like this to date so the business models to do this after may be charged businesses to collect waste to allow them to sell food as a discounted cost or to introduce advertising or promotions on their platform but again this also has problems so these these startups still rely on an enormous set of people users and volunteers to actually collect food and tribute and these users or volunteers
they have no control over their company they have no ownership over and the profits that they help to generate are extracted back to the investors who have invested into this so the core of the business the business model is in the structure are locked away away from scrutiny and secondly the real mission of the startups is profit so the website might say it's fighting food saving the environment and making the world a better place but the bottom line of this is that profit for the founders and investors is core if they're unable to make profit from saving food they'll pivot to another to another task so they may have very good intent to save the food but when it comes down to it it's whether you want to be accountable so you're happy users collecting food or
your venture capitalist so what's left out of this three common solutions which I'm rejecting all of them so I'm going to make an argument that we need to build resilient communities that can take on this world so part of this part
of this report that I've mentioned about civil civil society which has come from inside the charity sector their conclusion was that we need to build it we need to have a radical and creative shift that puts power in the hands of people and communities preventing an us-and-them future and connecting us better and humanizing the way we do things it's about not waiting for permission or hoping others will provide a plan so food waste is not an isolated problem that needs a specific solution but we can tap into this wider community idea to build organizations that are democratic and participatory to involve people in the decisions of the organization to give them control over the tools they use and the software that they need to give them a share in the power and a share in the ownership to move away from social hierarchies and to move away from us and then mindsets this is about having active like turning
passive consumers into active participants so the world is in our hand to do this I've showed you lots of approaches where millions of euros are going into this but it's not necessarily going to solve the problem the systems and the structures that we have so far are failing us and we can learn from groups such as community and activist groups or solidarity economies transition towns and cooperative movement so we can empower ourselves we don't need seven years before we start acting and we need we don't need a seven year research to
fight to see food like this and realize we can eat this directly we don't need the report so I'll hand over to you Nina and she will show us a bit how this works inside food sharing yep once it
isn't already in place for these problems as food charity its wait I have
to make this bigger it's the biggest volunteer base puts having initiative out out there and it all started because some idealist instead I have a seven years ago realized how absurd it is to remove two trash to then find so much edible food that it's possible to actually live a bit exclusively here even when to approach store owners and found some who agreed that it's a shame to throw all this good food in the bin and he managed to convince them to agree and fix times to which volunteers could just come by and pick up the surplus didn't simply eat it soon they were more stores and more volunteers were needed and bought more and more people joined in and there was so much food saved that the volunteers couldn't eat it all themselves so distribution points like this beautiful food checkpoint and vegan spoke were established it all got quite complex pretty fast and one of the food savers who happen to be a developer created an online platform to help with the organization of bits as I said that all started 70 years ago with an idea and today we have 50,000 food savers
5,000 cooperating stores 600 public
publicly accessible food share points and a team of volunteer coders who keep food sharing the up and running and it all is based on a very very simple idea
which basically is that good foods needs to be eaten and not wasted and that saved food should be passed on unconditionally and never sold and that food should only be shared if the person sharing it would also eat it the themselves it's so simple it's a positive direct and empowering well it's just natural to spread it further and further and it already grew beyond the borders of Germany into Austria and
Switzerland years ago and other days it also extends more and more into areas where no German is spoken food sharing de which is only available in German cannot be used there but really in the beginning you don't really need software to get started because what software doesn't do is that it's not going to
transform lonely computer persons into parts of active real-life communities it doesn't build a physical network of people for you what's needed in the beginning is sometimes some ideas and some determination to make it work you need to get off your chair and out into the real world you need to talk to people about food waste from a first small group of like-minded individuals and gather the courage to contact stores on eye level this may not be the easiest thing to do especially for introverts but it's something that can tear that theoretically be done tomorrow you don't need to ask permission of anybody there's no lengthy official process you need to wait until it's done you can
just get started you can take matters into your own hands and get active and you don't need to get active alone in fact you need people coming together for this to work in the end you need a whole
community of food savers and eaters to make use of all the safe truth so you want a good community spirit so that people come back to you just because it's nice it's nice hanging out with you and eat all the food and that's all it is wouldn't win situation where people are nice to each other and do good things and you want a core group of friends that coordinate everything like these people from food sharing Moscow
because everything is more fun if you do it together with friends it's more effective it's more efficient and it's more stable because it's something you want to do and you like doing it so the very basic question is how to find these people how to find friends how do people become friends normally well they get to know each other there's then time together and they find out that they have something in common and
food saving actually serves all that on silver platter by this common goal of saving food and the plan how to tackle it which is talking to stores agreeing on pickup times taking the food eating it distributing it doing whatever with it so that it doesn't go to waste so there are a way to go about it is to start with info events or just raise awareness spread the word that there is this idea and that there's a group of people wanting to make it work if these people
in last place you can just screen movies about food ways do some communicating with safe food then start talking to businesses that might be interested continue with building food checkpoints and corporations and in the beginning really a core group of five May around about five food savers it's really more than enough and everyone is a little bit open and friendly you were most definitely get along and the more time you spend the more failures you and you're the more success you reach the stronger your bond will grow there's so many things you can and should do which fun NPR at the same time like organizing hangouts for the emerging community holding brunches and the cooking events everything you can think of really so as soon as you have your core group like this one in Quito Ecuador everything's
gonna be much easier you can share workloads and develop plans together you can exchange ideas and form synergies you can save food and have a jolly good time well edit food safely becomes a hobby and the lifestyle and something you just do and the underlying environmental and social reasons create a culture that can more easily spread and maintains itself because it's carried by a whole community of people who think alike this leads to more people feeling motivated and empowered to get further involved which then leads to even more
possible growth by are more opportunities for PR work when you have more people you can participate in public events with info stands have huge pickups and then distribution events in public areas festival participation so it just grows at a certain point like it is in Germany and then you have a catalyst effect because food waste as you must know is just one of the many she's in this absurd world we live in today and when people become foodservice
they're not only interested in making this a little bit better and somehow helping out that yeah doesn't stay like this and when they participate in a food saving group for a while they learn that they actually can make a change and that it actually does not come with a thousand strings attached so when you have a group of dedicated food savers what you actually have is a group of positive productive and practical environmental activists and many similar
topics in the sense of zero waste upcycling repairing and general environmentalism become obvious because the people talk to each other and they have this spirit of wanting to make it better and there's also so many more similar forms of countering all these topics like organizing free shops and frequent free markets having closed sharing parties repair cafes skills are intrested skill sharing sessions and by living by this logic logic for a while people's whole worldview can actually
change and they might start basing their actions on these three values use whatever already their meaning get active to find where something might be wasted or that somebody else has it and I can just borrow it and I don't need to get out and buy it new try to repair things make things accessible and useful again then share what you don't immediately need meaning understand that product should be used and not amassed that they are not a substitute for your identity but rather things with a purpose and it means regaining control over your desires to conquer your greed and to understand that you are not your possessions and lastly live by your own standards that means reject normality as a value in itself and to form independent opinions which are just based on your real experience and how
you want to live basically so I wouldn't I would say this basically the description of an eco Hecker don't you agree so how does it work to spread this mindset well normally it goes somewhat like this
teddy from Germany is very active food saver and she's going to Sweden for her studies she wants to spread the idea of food saving in her new city oyster soon with 50,000 inhabitants she is very experienced as I said so she knows the first steps she holds to info vents together like-minded people or only four to six people show up still she's totally fine with that creates two Facebook groups together interested people and fellow food service respectively she immediately contact stores to find out the situation and who to possibly cooperations with she contacts us and asks for help setting up a group on character our pickup management tool Tilman will tell you more about in a second over the coming month the community forms more cooperations ability and lots of food saved and three weeks already Teddy will leave Earth's Tucson because the study period is over she spent one year there but look what she leaves behind there
were two newspaper articles they had
infidelities for public events they have five cooperating stores two of which not the smaller supermarkets they have a public food share point with the fridge they have a hangout for the community twice a month 600 kilograms of food were saved by the 200 food savers in the carrot group so what if sees this carrot thing
[Applause] so yeah carrot is our contribution to help food saving groups grow it's an
open-source web app that gives each group their own space for organizing because sometimes just not using computers doesn't cut it anymore in one sentence you can think of it as a combination of a collaborative calendar and a messaging system and for those who help it is Congress there's also some similarities with the ingleses team we have desktop and mobile apps mobile because we are usually on the road when we save food and now I want to walk you a bit more through carrot first somebody needs to create a group and enter detail about their store corporations we can specify when and where food should foot pickups would happen if they should take place regularly how many people are needed and so on you can see a list of food pickups of the food restaurant group and members can sign up to do the pickups and as you can see with the pictures all slots are third which is very good we can also write messages to the whole group and if this is to unspecific we can write messages to individual users and also to those we do the next food pick up with and after doing the food pickup we can give feedback how it went and how many kilos were saved this helps to spread information amongst the team members and we can derive meaningful statistics from this and before a new member can join we let him apply to the group and define the requirements before they can join then we chat with these applicants and invite them to the next group meeting and finally accept them into the group so this is some of the basic features of carrot but why is carrot how the way the
way it is when we work on carrot
development our search for the best solution is guided by these goals we want to provide useful software from multiple groups which are different many ways they come from different countries so carat needs to adapt to different social and legal context we want to encourage participation in groups from all members we want to avoid that a small number of people can dictate what others do our model for this is do opera SIA do something if you should think it should be done and be excellent to each other and finally we want to let people work together our assumption is that people want to work together to make something great we want to make sure that they can do that and not getting interrupted by some structure that destructive actions of others there are
many design decisions and carrots that I would like to talk about but there's not enough time in this talk so we just had some topics first of all how do users become group members and how do the roles in the group evolve so when you apply to join a group then the group can interview you I can come to a real-life meeting the group can define requirements before they accept you when you are in the group then your first a newcomer which means you don't have all the possibilities you're restricted to doing pickups to meeting people to giving feedback so you can participate in full group life after while other people might wire the website and if you have enough trust and you also gain editing rights in the software which makes you so you can set up new stock operations then and drive the group forward the goal is that all active long-term members should become editors so the people who are in the group are
all created equal and this design has partially been derived from the trust levels of the great discourse forum software another decision in carat has been made to separate the groups from each other not to actually isolate them but to make sure that I don't harm each other but we
still keep them visible so that they can learn from each other I mean the groups are in different countries so they have a different social and legal context and every group wants to set up their own rules and sometimes there might be a
conflict between the groups but here they cannot harm each other and another thing that's quite nice right now we had thorough translation support so the groups can use carat in their own language and timezone our users already translated into 11 languages and most with good coverage and in the right picture you can see the nice carat instance for the Taiwanese food sharing group yeah what's the current set of
carat we started development in 2016 released quite early and ended a big redesign the first active users join doesn't mid 2017 and as of now the end of 2018 we have 16 groups in nine countries that's like two thousand six hundred registered users and five hundred are active weekly active in total they do 50 foot pickups per day so 50 users in two years doesn't sound much if we were a startup this could be considered an utter failure but these people do go out and save food every day that by driving the movement forward so in reference to a cliche startup approach move fast and break things somebody derived another version from it move slow and make things that seems to be the resilient way to do and fits the carrot development best we are quite a small team with a bit more than one main developer but we resist already much attention so far over 50 people contributed to carrot not just code but also other things we do rely on dual critic participation also for development so everybody who has an idea can just go forward with it and if nobody has resistance then it's fine our development is currently unfunded but supported by safe food and hack places where we can live like hunt house and woods and close to Leipzig and advantage of this that no one except the developers or the users have a say and
what should be done on the software in future our plan is to acquire some
funding through groups and carrot because they are doing useful work so usually they are able to be funded through various grants and there was would give us some of the money to drive development forward and we want to formalize our cooperative structure both for the carrot development and for the main instance on characters words and of course continue designing and coding but
carrot is essentially just a calendar so other courses could benefit from it as well for example the bike hitch movement saves parts from unwanted bikes that are lying around and builds new bikes from it also we supported by community means this year the members from the oldest buy kitchen in Gothenburg in Sweden have approached us and want us to modify carrot for their course we think it's a great idea to generous care and make it a versatile platform for saving resources to community effort there are countless other causes that are benefited from it as well so this
was our presentation about the food saving grassroots movement if you're intrigued you can visit us no assembly in Hall too close to the contours aisle
and I was also have various resources on the internet thanks to food trend OTE
which inspired us through its community and to the software and another thing we
got some safe fruit from the food service in Leipzig it's waiting in this hall and when you leave it you can take a bite from it thanks to nice food service here
thank you so much
there's about ten minutes left for the Q&A and in order to have a most fruitful Q&A be aware that your questions will not be heard unless they are a microphone also your gratitude to the speakers is probably best expressed outside the room later on by getting them and beverage of their choice and so on and questions are short sentences that end with a question mark and I don't really know care who you are what you have done in life so without much further ado let's start with a question from the internet there is a question from the IRC the question is in theory
in distributing food for free could lead to less food being brought about increasing the spiral of food for the trash bin or a distribution and stocks being reduced in the first place leading to less food being needed to worry about has anyone been done to measure these or other effects so you didn't really understand that acoustically it may I may try to repeat the question yeah this is just the suggestion was that if this more efficient use of foods better that might
result in a downward spiral theoretically or hypothetically of food being produced and thereby accelerating the food shortage so from what I've seen
measuring anything in the food business is really hard and especially when it's about food waste it's like all participants who are in this business are really reluctant to give reliable numbers but I mean through carrot like all the foods that we saved will be eaten so there is probably this amount that should be produced less hopefully but of course we cannot say it reliably it would be nice if we could okay well
number one I just said something about expressions of gratitude being kept outside the room place your question oh
yeah I find myself shocked I don't know why but I've heard it many times now in his talk we we see one developer 50 contributors and I think oh there's so much weight on yea such a small well no team I mean one person but I mean of course is like a big group of people but yeah you mentioned in your slide that you want to support this through the cantos and and through you know other ways I was just wondering if you could speak to that and maybe speak to sustainability of development and so forth thank you I mean in the end at the the idea we have is actually that it's a bit more sustainable even if you free yourself from the needing so much money in the first place because if you eat save food all the time and you save resources all the time and live in a house that was bought by the movement if you want you don't need to pay rent and stuff like that it's possible to do that for us right now and if you want to do that that's pretty cool I guess most people are not at that stage that they want to commit their life so much to one cause I think so I think this is why a lot of the projects I have like one person who's like really enthusiastic and has the skill to do it and then other people like jumped on a little bit and helped out a little bit but then go back to the paid work or duties and family life or whatever so I think I don't know would be great if we had more developers sure people who stick to the project and do it all the time but yeah more than offering to come by and do it with together with us we can't I guess
okay microphone number two yeah hi did you get feedback from the community about how many stores were asked to
cooperate but didn't want to yeah sure sure that's a classic thing that normally and so maybe an anecdote for that I went to Warsaw to visit the food saving community there when they were just starting out and one of the food service that would mean yeah we went to a lot of cafes and restaurants and asked them if they want to cooperate and then just one and 15 said yes and I was like oh really 1.15 it's not such a bad racial history because um yeah it's it's new it's it's for the moment for most of the stores especially when you're just starting out and Germany we have a better situation because the name food sharing already is quite known and we have big chains cooperating on management level and stuff like that makes it much easier but if you're starting a new group it's really they are doubtful they don't know you you're not a big charity you're not really efficient you can promise to be super professional and come prepared and everything but if you have somebody who doesn't want to listen they would just say ah now we're not wasting anything or oh yeah sounds good what you do but we don't have time for that because in the beginning they need to be open for change and you need to have like store owners or store managers who do care so it makes sense to go to I don't know organic supermarkets or like fair trade shops where you can foresee that they probably will be interested in the issue of food ways that don't see you as a as a beggar who wants free food yeah so it is really in the beginning you need a lot of frustration tolerance
okay it's another question from the internet take my angel no new question from the internet question yeah go ahead no question okay Oh in that case thank you so much for being here they appear now appeared not to be any new questions so round of applause
[Applause] [Music] [Music]