Anyone who’s ever lived with roommates knows that communal fridges are basically just big boxes of chilled nightmares and disease sprinkled with 500 mostly empty condiment bottles. The idea of a communal fridge for 30,000 people should make even Sigourney Weaver shudder — but the people of the Spanish town of Galdakao are making it work. The goal, NPR reports, is to divert perfectly good food from the dumpster:
In April, the town established Spain’s first communal refrigerator. It sits on a city sidewalk, with a tidy little fence around it, so that no one mistakes it for an abandoned appliance. Anyone can deposit food inside or help themselves.
This crusade against throwing away leftovers is the brainchild of Alvaro Saiz, who used to run a food bank for the poor in Galdakao.
“The idea for a Solidarity Fridge started with the economic crisis — these images of people searching dumpsters for food — the indignity of it. That’s what got me thinking about how much food we waste,” Saiz told NPR over Skype from Mongolia, where he’s moved onto his next project, living in a yurt and building a hospital for handicapped children.
The town allocated about $5,580 for the fridge, which covers the purchase of the nightmare-box itself, electricity, and upkeep as well as a health safety study, NPR reports. And fortunately, the Solidarity Fridge isn’t a complete free-for-all, unlike that moldy food coffin mini-fridge you kept in your college dorm room:
There are rules: no raw meat, fish or eggs. Homemade food must be labeled with a date and thrown out after four days. But Javier Goikoetxea, one of the volunteers who cleans out the fridge, says nothing lasts that long.
“Restaurants drop off their leftover tapas at night — and they’re gone by next morning,” he says. “We even have grannies who cook especially for this fridge. And after weekend barbecues, you’ll find it stocked with ribs and sausage.”
If we had a Solidarity Fridge in my Seattle neighborhood, I, for one, would be willing to overcome the trauma of past fridge cleanings and passive aggressive roommates in order to help with the upkeep. Anything for grannie food and Thai leftovers.