The best things in life are free, or so they say. People like Katryna Robinson are making the most of hotel freebies by donating them to the needy. Now, a free shopping market in New Zealand is cutting food waste (and hunger) by selling surplus food.
The Free Store is a nonprofit organization that redistributes surplus food from local businesses… to those in need. It was inspired by a two-week art project… where artist Kim Paton filled a shop with surplus food items from bakeries and supermarkets. Anyone visiting the shop could take what they wanted free of charge.
In New Zealand, the amount of food that goes to waste is staggering at over 120,000 tons. Just like a similar shop in Norway, The Free Store redistributes expired food still fit for a perfectly good meal. At present, they are selling about 250,000 food items per annum.
“We saw the potential in an untapped food supply. You had food that was perfectly good to eat, and then you had people that were hungry. We could facilitate a connection between the two,”
Initiatives such as this one are becoming increasingly popular around the world. While I’m all for consuming anything “spoiled but scrumptious”, I am more enthusiastic about how things are looking up for those in need.
For the digital generation, printed novels are a thing of the past. While comics and classics alike are making their way into Kindles, Gen X’s are doing what they can to keep them old school. As an increasing number of libraries are scrapping fees, country superstar Dolly Parton is busy donating books. In fact, she just pledged her 100 millionth to children in need.
“I never thought about being ‘the book lady,’ ” [Parton] joked… “The painted lady, yes, the overexaggerated lady. That goes to show you can’t judge a book by its cover.”
Founder of the nonprofit Imagination Library, Parton sends families a book a month. The songbird is donating up to a million books a month, and hit a milestone at the Library of Congress. Parton, clearly a daddy’s girl, has dedicated the selfless act to her late father.
“Of all the things I’ve done in my life — and it’s been a lot because I’ve been around — this is the most precious,” she said. “Maybe we’ll be back for a billion.”
Looks like a brand-new record isn’t the only thing going platinum this year!
The best things in a sustainable life come free. Whether solar power or library books, the end goal is the same. Protect the planet. Educate. With an extensive amount of waste and pollution looming over the globe, Germany has had enough. To cut rising costs of living and minimize emissions, nation is offering free public transport.
“We are considering public transport free of charge in order to reduce the number of private cars,” three German government ministers wrote in their recent letter to the E.U… “Effectively fighting air pollution without any further unnecessary delays is of the highest priority for Germany.”
Though it hasn’t topped the list of most polluted countries in Europe, Germans remain among the 400,000 that succumb to air pollution every year. Expenses are tricky, but are encouraging other forms of eco-traveling.
The free public transport plans would be complemented by other measures, such as car-sharing schemes or expanded low-emissions zones within cities.
Sure, a crowded subway may not sound ideal — but let’s hope Germany has its reigns on that as well.
In places like New York, educational institutions are becoming less restrictive towards low-income families. This is so much so that children are now enjoying free lunches to ease financial burdens and prevent bullying. But the fact remains — many continue to struggle with other expenses such as tuition fees and school materials. Realizing the sheer significance of free knowledge, L.A. County has waived library fees for readers under 21.
“When charges accrue on a young person’s account, generally, they don’t pay the charges and they don’t use the card,” [library administrator Darcy] Hastings said. “A few dollars on their accounts means they stop using library services.”
As past fines persist, the county is also offering a “Read Away” service for young bookworms. Simply by picking out a novel to digest for an afternoon, students can eliminate fees at $5 an hour.
“You tell them you’ll read and they’ll sign you in and you start,” said Leilany, a fifth-grader at Morris K. Hamasaki Elementary in East L.A. “When your head starts losing the book you can stop reading and they tell you how much money they took away.”
Reading for fun and paying off debts? Sounds like a win-win for literature lovers looking to knock off a couple of bucks!
Some restaurants give out free meals to the needy. Others make you work for it. At Mirai Shokudo (Future Eatery) in Tokyo, customers either pay for a meal — or work an hour for one. Run single-handedly by Sekai Kobayashi, the unique dining experience teaches individuals the value of diligence.
“It’s an exciting job because I work with a new person every time. It’s interesting to develop a good rapport and work with others,” said [Kobayashi.]
Students are Mirai Shokudo’s most frequent customers — and what better a demographic to learn true independence? Despite the free lunches, Kobayashi’s business remains profitable thanks to open-sourcing. Feedback allows the ambitious entrepreneur to make improvements and remain on top of her game.
“Sharing something with others means supporting those with ambition. That underpins my approach to work,” she said.
In Tokyo without a bill to spare? No problem — just head on over to Mirai Shokudo!
In this day and age, it isn’t only lawyers who are offering their services pro bono. Dr. Kenny Wilstead fixed a battered woman’s tooth for free, to ease her recovery from domestic abuse. NFL defender Chris Long is playing this year’s entire season free-of-charge, directing his checks towards education groups. Casual barber Brennon Jones, who gives free haircuts to the homeless, is now working out of a shop donated by a stranger — at no cost, of course.
“Me, personally, I think I surpassed a thousand haircuts, so many I stopped counting. So it’s been a good year so far,” Brennon explained.
Sean Johnson, a self-made barber himself (he owns Taper’s Barbershop!), is Jones’ generous benefactor. Johnson decided to focus on the donation in place of an expansion project.
“It wasn’t about me giving a barbershop, when you look at the homeless and the things that they need, I looked at it as more. I built something and I want to see it keep going and I want to see it do a great thing,” Johnson said.
Set to open in November, the shop will cater to both regular and homeless customers. To many who call sidewalks and park benches home, the occasional haircut provides a much-needed boost of confidence.
When trapped Houston bakers baked bread for Harvey victims, it didn’t matter who they were. If someone needed a loaf of bread, regardless of status, it was going to be delivered to them. The selfless act is inspiring many, and now the Big Apple is offering public school lunches for free.
This move has been long sought by food-policy advocates and many members of the New York City Council, who said that some students would prefer to go hungry rather than admit they cannot afford to pay for lunch. Nationally, the practice of “lunch shaming” — holding children publicly accountable for unpaid school lunch bills — has garnered attention.
In the end, schools chancellor Carmen Fariña believes that all communities matter. The initiative will save families up to $300 a year — a vast amount for those under the poverty margin. New York City finances will remain unaffected.
City officials said the program was not expected to cost the city more money. The state recently changed how it tracks families that are eligible for benefits like Medicaid, matching them with the schools their children attend.
The program aspires to reach at least 200,000 more children. A lot of satisfied stomachs are to be expected.
I am a sucker for contemporary Good Samaritan tales. Just a few days ago, a video of firefighters rescuing a tiny kitten from inside a PVC pipe plagued social media and left me sifting through YouTube for clips of passers-by saving animals caught in conundrums. Most recently, Butch Yamali of Peter’s Clam Bar in Hempstead paid it forward to a 132-year-old lobster named Louie.
“Today I’m announcing an official pardon for Louie the Lobster,” announced Hempstead Town Supervisor Anthony Santino. “Louie may have faced a buttery fate on a seafood lover’s plate, but today we are here to return Louie to a life that is better down where it’s wetter,”
Prior to his release, someone had offered to pay a hefty sum of $1,000 for Louie to be the star of his Father’s Day dinner. Yamali politely declined, claiming Louie was more like a pet.
Having lived 112 years in the Atlantic beach reef, experts deem that Louie will have no trouble adapting to a life in the wild.
“He’ll be just fine. There aren’t many predators who want to eat a big old lobster like that,” says Bob Bayer, executive director of the Lobster Institute in Maine. “Hopefully, he finds a mate – and lives happily ever after.”
Now, why don’t we talk about freeing up Louie’s buddies?