By Clara Olshansky
Updated August 25, 2015
© iStockphoto

In Spain, leftovers are making the world a better place. In April, the Basque town of Galdakao set up Spain's first Solidarity Fridge. The Solidarity Fridge is a communal refrigerator, marked by a fence (lest it be mistaken for someone's discarded appliance), where people and businesses can deposit all the totally edible food they were going to throw away.

This Solidarity Fridge is the brainchild of Álvaro Saiz, a member of the city's volunteer association. The association was contemplating how much viable food supermarkets threw in the trash (which, if it is at all similar to the amount thrown out in America, is quite a lot), when Saiz realized they could replace one of those trash bins with a refrigerator. After receiving € 5,000 from the city to finance the fridge and test its health and safety, the association did just that and it's been a huge hit. Saiz likens it to the German food-sharing site, but more accessible for those who aren't comfortable with technology.

Though the fridge may help some of the town’s needier residents, it is intended more to fight food waste than poverty and hunger. As Saiz said, "This isn’t charity. It’s about making use of food that would otherwise end up in the bin. It doesn’t matter who takes it—Julio Iglesias [the best-selling Spanish-language singer of all-time] could stop by and take the food—at the end of the day, it’s about recovering the value of food products and fighting against waste.”

There are only a few rules about what you can donate: no raw meat, eggs or seafood, nothing past its expiration date and homemade food must include a label listing when it was made, so that one of the Solidarity Fridge's volunteers can discard it if no one eats it within four days. But, according to one volunteer, the fridge is too popular for that to be an issue. In fact, the fridge has been such a success that other towns and cities have looked to it for inspiration; Murcia, a town in the south of Spain, has established its own solidarity fridge, and other communities, within Spain and without, have contacted Saiz about starting up similar projects. Maybe someday solidarity fridges could be feeding the whole world.