Food Sharing by Jess Acton

Food is a vital part of our lives. Nutritious and healthy food maintains, nourishes and heals us. Food is important to all cultures and the buying and eating of food can be a political act. We share food with those we love, as a ritual, at celebrations and to commiserate. It is an intrinsic part of our lives, beliefs, values, economy, culture and society.

food sharing


Food also crucially links to many aspects of our environment. Our methods of food production, transportation, processing and consumption directly impact the environment. For example, a kilo of meat can require around 15,000 litres of water to produce, and 25 calories of fossil fuel energy per every 1 calorie of protein.


Food transportation accounts for 30% of emissions and the percentage of imported food is increasing annually. Biodiversity loss is occurring in the UK at an unprecedented rate, partly due to intensive farming. It is clear therefore, that there is no chance of tackling habitat loss and climate change if we leave the food system out of the equation.


Furthermore, our current industrialised, global food system is full of injustices. Half of the world struggles with malnourishment whilst the other battles obesity. Importantly, total food production is increasing as we are simultaneously wasting more and more food.


The aim of Food Sharing Edinburgh is to reduce food waste so that we can make the shift to a more sustainable society. It is a movement which provides a platform for individuals to share excess food with each other, raises awareness of food waste, educates, organises workshops and events (like Disco Soup), unites, and creates a community in the process. In the UK, a third of all food is wasted – which means 15 million tonnes is sent to landfill every year. If we could feed this food to people, we could cut 20 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions as well as 1/3rd of water, fossil fuels and packaging from food production.


We welcome everyone to get involved – whether you wish to participate in exchanging food, are angered by the social justice and environmental costs of our food system, or just want to make friends by sharing good food with good people. We also collect excess food from businesses and farms that would otherwise waste their produce. By keeping a record of the weight of food we collect each day we hope to help businesses identify trends in their food waste and take steps to reduce it.


Food waste

We have a vision for the future where all businesses across Edinburgh are connected to the Food Sharing network. We want to see our community of food sharers grow and Food Sharing groups blossom in all other towns and cities in Scotland. No edible food waste in Scotland should be thrown away. Individuals should have greater awareness of the problem especially since ½ of all food waste is attributable to households.


We want to encourage a sense of community around food in Edinburgh and link in to other vibrant sustainable food initiatives. We want to reduce the stigma around sharing leftover food. We want to help businesses understand how much they’re wasting and when so they can take steps to reduce it. Ultimately, Food Sharing aims for a world where our work isn’t needed. We dream of a day without food waste, where everyone has adequate access to healthy, nutritious food.


Join our Facebook group where you can start sharing and collecting excess food immediately:


To find out more, sign up to our mailing list, volunteer, sign up your business, help design our website platform or become a communications volunteer, email [email protected]. We love to hear new suggestions and ideas, so please get in touch!



Further Reading:

WRAP commissioned a study to obtain a better understanding of how much water was used within the total UK food and drink industry, with the intention of informing how this has changed over time, since the Food Industry Sustainability Strategy (FISS) target was announced in 2007: is both an information clearinghouse and a network of action-oriented groups. Our focus is on building community resilience in a world of multiple emerging challenges: the decline of cheap energy, the depletion of critical resources like water, complex environmental crises like climate change and biodiversity loss, and the social and economic issues which are linked to these:


The Guardian: How much water is needed to produce food and how much do we waste? As much as 50% of all food produced in the world ends up as waste every year according to figures from the Institution of Mechanical Engineers. But how much water is needed to produce it?:


Friends of the Earth Resources: Here you can browse our documents by year, campaign and type. Please get in touch if you have any feedback:


BioEthics Education Project: It is an interactive website and virtual learning environment for secondary school science teachers and their students. It is a teaching resource developed to highlight the moral, ethical, social, economic, environmental and technological implications and applications of biology:


Love Food Hate Waste: Almost 50% of the total amount of food thrown away in the UK comes from our homes. We throw away 7 million tonnes of food and drink from our homes every year in the UK, and more than half of this is food and drink we could have eaten:


WRAP: WRAP’s vision is a world in which resources are used sustainably. Their mission is to accelerate the move to a sustainable resource-efficient economy through:

  • re-inventing how we design, produce and sell products,
  • re-thinking how we use and consume products, and
  • re-defining what is possible through re-use and recycling


WRAP works, uniquely and by design, in the space between Governments, businesses, communities, innovative thinkers and individuals – forging partnerships and developing ground-breaking initiatives to help the UK use resources more sustainably. We have strong relationships with Government decision makers; with business leaders with the ability to influence powerful supply chains and with individuals through our highly respected consumer campaigns.

This article was written with help from Hassan Waheed