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Since signing up to become a social media volunteer for the Witney Community Fridge back in September, my eyes have been truly opened to just how much there is to learn about sustainability. My knowledge of food waste and its impact upon the planet has definitely improved, but I still have a long way to go! The path to sustainable living is a long and non-linear one, but in the words of Anne Marie Bonneau:

‘We don’t need a handful of people doing zero waste perfectly. We need millions of people doing it imperfectly.’ – Anne Marie Bonneau

I think the main thing that I have learnt is just how important the small actions are. A lot of people are put off ‘zero waste’ living by the label, and what comes with it: the pressure to be perfect, to completely change your way of living overnight, to scrap all plastic, become vegan, and live off your own land. Whilst all that is wonderful, it’s certainly not attainable (for most of us). I can’t stress enough how, even by doing something as simple as pledging to use a service like the Community Fridge once a week, or bringing your own bags every time you go to a supermarket, you really are making a huge difference.


I’ve also come to realise that ‘Food waste’ is an all-encompassing term. Being a huge contributor to climate change, it’s not just limited to leaving leftovers on your plate. It’s also vital to look at things like where your food is actually from, the seasonality of your veg, and what your food is wrapped in! Earlier in the year, I made a pledge through the Carbon Literacy Fund to reduce my plastic use, and it’s definitely been harder than I expected…plastic is everywhere! It’s definitely worth doing your research and ensuring you have a few essentials before you take the plunge. Here are some things that will make your life easier on your sustainable journey:

  • Invest in things that you know you’ll use daily: a reusable coffee mug, a few reusable bags, produce bags. Create your own ‘low-waste essentials kit’ and place it by the door. These will make your life easier when it comes to leaving the house

  • Find a community! There are lot of groups or individuals that you can join or follow on social media to share tips with and make you feel less isolated on your journey. Talk to a friend about making a pledge too and be each-other’s accountability partner

  • Start small. Think of one area to focus on and pledge to reduce your waste in that area, whether it’s fashion, plastic, or food. It can be overwhelming to start with so choose the area that you think will make the most difference, and go from there

  • Don’t be too hard on yourself! As expressed, it’s not about being perfect!

- Alice Williamson



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The community fridge first opened its doors almost 2 years ago. It literally started out as a fridge in Moorland Rd. The last 12 months have been phenomenal. The Fridge has had to adapt to the pandemic, tackle challenges such as finding a new home and take on new opportunities - bringing a Community Larder to reality.

Our terrific team of volunteers has never been deterred and continue to selflessly serve the

community whilst fulfilling our mission to reduce food waste and food poverty.

According to the United Nations (Food and Agriculture) a massive 1.3 Billion tonnes of food is wasted every year across the world. This equates to one third of food produced for human

consumption or up to three trillion meals over the course of a year. The figures are truly mind

boggling!


With the support of our food distribution partners and eco hero volunteers and customers, the Witney Food revolution is hoping to positively change this statistic one banana at a time!

Read on to see our journey over the last 12 months:


April 2020 during the first lockdown we were operating from Moorland Road with the kind help of Witney Community Support Service. With COVID 19 we couldn’t operate as ‘help yourself’ from the fridge anymore, but we knew there were people who needed access more than ever. The solution - we made up bags and gave them out – socially distanced of course - and continued to champion the cause for reducing food waste. We also became a Community Action Group and joined CAG Oxfordshire.






July 2020. There was plenty of surplus food, and much demand but limited space. With the help of Witney Town Council, we temporarily moved to the Corn Exchange. This allowed our volunteers to work masked and socially distanced inside while serving the community outside. We partnered with The Witney Land Army who helped us deliver surplus food to those who were shielding. At the time online delivery slots for supermarkets where like gold dust, so this joint operation was a lifeline to many. It was a bewildering time as the pandemic was about to change everything. It wasn’t all doom and gloom though! There were so many fun times. Chatting to drivers, making new friendships, working together and that sense of community spirit which made us all feel proud!

We were also offered another outlet – on Church Green - and used this for an extra COVID

activity of distributing boxes of non-perishable foods kindly donated from SOFEA – plus fruit

and vegetables. This is where our partnership with SOFEA began and led to the Larder you

see today.



November 2020, we moved to our new home – courtesy of the Methodist Church – the Luke

Room at the back of the Church. Initially, as the restrictions in place at that time were limited, we were able to offer a market stall style operation under a large Gazebo, so visitors were able to self select items.


In the second lockdown that was no longer possible, the virus strain was more transmissible

and the safety of our volunteers and visitors was paramount. The amount of work behind

the scenes was incredible and enabled the fridge to stay open and serve the needs of our

community.


Behind the scenes work has also started to prepare for the opening of the Larder – which we

hope will be one of the highlights of 2021!


The resilience of the team is second to none. Not only adapting to multiple changes but

continuing to drive forward and revolutionise the way our community can access surplus

food and create zero waste pantries at home.


In all of this there have been lots of stories of people who have been helped and also many

who have said they had no idea of how much food went to waste. Changing the way we

shop and being more mindful about where our food comes from creates change. Small

changes add up to big changes.


April 2021 saw the launch of our Community Larder and the move to The Amos Room. Our

vision was to create a beautiful shopping experience for our visitors and our volunteers – no

longer having to erect a gazebo in all weathers! We wanted bunting and fairy lights and

baskets and frills! Our dream became a reality, and the launch of the larder has so far been a

success. It works well with the fridge and provides more sustainable access to surplus food

via a membership scheme.


More information about how to join can be found here:

https://www.sofea.uk.com/purpose-projects/community-larder/ and look out for a future

blog post all things larder. At time of writing, we have 35 members, and our target is 100

members by the end of 2021. Can you help us get there?!


Over the last nine months, we handled over 40 tons of food and redistributed it to 750

visitors. Along the way we have had lots of thankyou’s, laughs, smiles [sometimes behind

masks], challenges, ups and downs…BUT, we believe in our brand, we believe every small

change helps our community, our environment and our mission to reduce food waste and

eliminate food poverty.


Change the way you shop, make one meal a day a zero-waste meal, become a member of the larder, be part of the Witney Food Revolution.

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