Free Shopping Market Sells Surplus Food

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.

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Generous Elderly Man Buys Toys For Toddler

Random acts of kindness can range anywhere from rescuing a drowning family to saving a swan tangled in fishing wire. Whatever the case, they are often unexpected and incredibly heartwarming. This generous elderly man decided he would pay it forward to the next generation, buying toys for a toddler at Target.

“Owen grabbed [three dinosaur toys] and we were trying to pick out which one he wanted when Owen abruptly yelled, “Hi,” at this older man walking past us,” [mom Alyssa] Hacker wrote [on Facebook]. “He turned around and said, ‘Hey sweet boy.’”

A grandfather himself, the generous elderly man handed the child a $20 bill for all three toys as the little boy continued to play with the miniature dinosaurs. His reason for doing so? It’s tear-jerking, to say the least.

“I just lost my 2-year-old grandson last week. You take this money and buy this boy all three dinosaurs.”

Tissues, anyone? Hacker initially felt that the anonymous grandpa was a little too close for comfort — clearly, his act of benevolence changed that. The video that she posted on Facebook even garnered hundreds of thousands of shares.

“There is still some good in this world,” she added.

While it’s often best to remain cautious with strangers, keep in mind that there are a bunch who mean well.

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London Opens First Waste-Free Shop

In the past few months alone, the zero-waste community has grown exponentially. Environmental enthusiasts are ever going as far as hosting sustainable wedding receptions. Waste-free shops are manifesting across all seven continents, including this charming boutique in London.

“I created a shop that I wish existed. I wanted to cut packaging, I wanted to cut my footprint, and found it very difficult as supermarkets pack everything.” [said shop owner Ingrid Caldironi]

The shop, dubbed Bulk Market, boasts a wide range of organic products. Home essentials, including fresh produce, chocolates, and hair products, rest comfortably on its shelves. Caldironi’s ultimate goal is to prevent excessive buying and packaging waste.

“Why can’t we shop with smaller exact portions – 1-2 carrots, 1-2 eggs; why big packets with the environmental waste that goes with it?”

As an avid lover of omelettes, I’m not entirely sure 2 eggs would get the job done. However, the initiative is more than commendable, especially for environmental aficionados on a budget.

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Amsterdam Supermarket Boasts Plastic-Free Options

Despite a growing abundance of zero-waste shopping options, other alternatives have yet to hit mainstream stores. In a supermarket first, Amsterdam’s Ekoplaza is making over 700 plastic-free products available to the public.

“We know that our customers are sick to death of products laden in layer after layer of thick plastic packaging,” Ekoplaza chief executive Erik Does said.

“Plastic-free aisles are a really innovative way of testing the compostable biomaterials that offer a more environmentally friendly alternative to plastic packaging.”

With limited choices for items in non-plastic wrapping, bringing them to the masses makes a big statement. As an added bonus, manufacturing biodegradable containers won’t cost anything upwards from regular plastic materials. Ekoplaza will carry eco-friendly rice, sauces, snacks, and more packed in metal, glass, and cardboard.

“There is absolutely no logic in wrapping something as fleeting as food in something as indestructible as plastic,” [A Plastic Planet co-founder Sian] Sutherland said. “Plastic food and drink packaging remains useful for a matter of days yet remains a destructive presence on the Earth for centuries afterwards.”

As the greatest contributor to plastic waste in department stores, grocery aisles have long deserved eco-alternatives. Hopefully, they’re here to stay.

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Texan Uses Coupon Collection To Help Hurricane Victims

The aftermath of Hurricane Harvey has proved to be equally as hopeful as it was devastating. People are doing all they can for one another, from making pizza deliveries to baking thousands of loaves of bread. A month after the floods, this Texan mom continues to give back, using her coupon collection to help victims.

“Many hurricane evacuees are asking for pampers, wipes and formula. I don’t have any of that stuff in my stockpile but I have tons of coupons for them,”

Kimberly Gager collected coupons to the extreme, enough to stockpile goods to fill her garage. Neighbors have also helped fund her cause, in addition to contacting those in need of assistance.

“It is definitely a second job. I get very little sleep… Once I finish my daytime job, I am hitting the store. Sometimes I even do this during lunch, before work, everything.”
Like any working mom, Gager can’t avoid the wrath of exhaustion. However, she remains passionate about helping others, having been the victim of hurricane damage back in 1999. Gager continues to donate items, proving that being a hoarder can truly come in handy.
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Supermarket’s Quiet Hour Is For Autistic Shoppers

Every now and then, in the virtual universe, I stumble upon some very giving and compassionate people. Some like to make grand gestures. Bill Gates, one of the biggest philanthropists of our time, recently donated $4.6 billion in stakes to charity. Others show their generosity in different ways. This mom donated 5,000 pints of breastmilk to babies in need. Just yesterday, Coles supermarket, along with Autism Spectrum Australia, introduced “quiet hour” for its autistic shoppers.

During the that time, the store’s radio will be turned down to its lowest level, and the lights will be dimmed by 50 per cent.

Register and scanner volumes will be turned down to its lowest level, roll cages will be off the shop floor, trolley collections will stop, and PA announcements will be avoided — bar emergencies.

Quiet hour will run through to October, although all of us are wishing it’d be a permanent practice. Coles has been training staff to better understand sensory overload and how to cater to autistic customers’ needs.

“Although we have modified some of the physical and sensory stimulators in store, we also hope to achieve a ‘no-judgement’ shopping space for people and families on the spectrum, where customers will feel comfortable and welcome.”

Members of the Australian community are thrilled over the initiative, some taking to FaceBook to express their gratitude towards Coles. We may not fully understand how loud the world can be for these people, but we can always put our best foot forward.

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Refrigerator Camera Helps Monitor Food

The British food market is on a roll. Sainsbury recently manufactured a smart label that reminds home cooks when to use up an ingredient. However, the labels are only for ham packets. Kitchen company Smarter hopes its newest device will be a game-changer. FridgeCam is an affordable refrigerator camera that helps users monitor food in real time.

The Smarter FridgeCam takes food “selfies” which are sent to the user’s phone, allowing an instant reminder of what could be on the menu for their next meal. The app also monitors use-by dates, and issues automatic top-up reminders to buy more food products based on remaining quantities.

Why not use any camera? Well, for starters, I wouldn’t recommend shoving a point-and-shoot into your fridge. Plus, it costs less than $150, which is a steal compared to full-on smart refrigerators.

“The supermarkets tell us that the way we shop has fundamentally changed. People are shopping little and often and using different shops. The more we developed and trialled this technology, the more we found that it could not just help reduce food waste but it also encourages people to shop in a smarter and more efficient way,” [said Christian Lane, founder of Smarter]

The quirky gadget could help reduce the over-purchasing of food as well as encourage timely use. It may seem like a superfluous purchase, but at least you won’t be tossing perfectly good veggies.

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Students Discover Rare NASA Suits At Thrift Store

With the recent discovery of four Earth-sized planets (two of which could be habitable!), NASA may want to stock up on astronauts. If anything, they won’t have to worry about uniforms. Two students bargain shopping at a Florida thrift store scored rare NASA suits at only 20 cents each. Now that’s a steal.

According to experts at the American Space Museum, the astronauts’ names and flight dates on the white labels seem to match the time astronauts George “Pinky” Nelson, PhD, Robert A. Parker, PhD, and Charles D. Walker, a payload specialist , flew shuttle missions between 1983 and 1985.

Talia Rappa and Skylar Ashworth plan to auction the suits, which could go for up to $5,000 each. Do I now wish I made this miraculous discovery? Um, yes.

“It just blows my mind,” Ashworth said, “It (the bin holding the suits) was under two other big totes, I moved them off to the side and I’m digging through a whole bunch of sweaters and stuff, and I found the white one with the patch just kind of laying there.”

I feel you, Skylar. I’d be out of my mind as well. A portion of the auction proceeds will go to the museum, while the rest will fund both students’ tuition fees. That’s pretty out of this world.

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In-Ride Shopping Helps Uber Drivers Make Extra Cash

Rush hour is not anyone’s favorite time of the day, but from time to time, we inevitably find ourselves in the middle of it. However, 15-minute-turned-2-hour drives don’t always leave us prepared for hunger pangs and total boredom. Cargo, a startup that allows Uber drivers to sell a quirky mix of items mid-ride, is not only helping them make an extra buck, but also alleviates our traffic-induced hiccups.

Cargo partners with brands to put candy, protein bars, tampons, and condoms in a case that sits within reach of passengers. The case comes with a code unique to each driver, which passengers use to record what they took during the ride.

Drivers get a bit of extra money from Cargo for the things their passengers take, regardless of whether the riders made a purchase or just took something for free. Passengers can even tip their drivers through Cargo, too.

While the extra income earned from Cargo is nothing hair-raising, drivers are not charged for having a case of goodies in their car.

“Our mission is to help drivers earn more by providing the best ride experience possible,”

“For passengers, you never have to worry about your phone dying, riding hungover, or suffering through that snack-less midnight ride from the airport,”

Cargo is clearly going above and beyond simple customer care, and we couldn’t be more grateful!

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