In our High 5 series, we celebrate inspiring people – and ask them to pass the High 5 on to someone who has inspired them. In this edition we meet food waste activist Selina Juul.
What inspired you to campaign against food waste?
I’m originally from Moscow and emigrated to Denmark when I was 13 years old. Back in Russia, with the collapse of Communism, there were times when there was no food in the supermarket. We really could not waste anything.
When I came to Denmark it was a shock. There was food everywhere, but people were wasting it. I had a job outside of school working in a bakery and every evening we had to take all the bread that was not sold and throw it away. When I asked if we could give it to the homeless, they said that it wasn’t possible and I just thought of all of the people in Russia who would die to have that bread.
Then in 2008, I’d really had enough. I was a 28-year-old graphic designer with no knowledge of food systems, but I felt like I had to do something. So I started a Facebook group called Stop Wasting Food (Stop Spild Af Mad). I didn’t know where this idea would take me, but two weeks later, I was on national media.
About Selina Juul
Danish designer-turned-activist Selina Juul founded Stop Wasting Food in 2008 and has won numerous awards, including Dane of the Year in 2014. She is also a member of international think tanks including the EU Platform on Food Losses and Food Waste. Watch her TED Talk here and find out what you can do at stopwastingfoodmovement.org
“The amounts of food going to waste globally are horrifying”
Today we’re the biggest food waste organisation in Denmark with 120,000 followers on social media. It’s become huge. Now almost every supermarket in Denmark has a food waste strategy.
Why is food waste such a big issue?
The amounts going to waste globally are horrifying. Between 8-10% of global CO2 emissions are caused by food waste, UN estimates show, and one third of the world’s food is lost (spoiling before it reaches the market) or wasted. The third-best solution to stop climate change is to stop wasting food, according to climate research organisation Project Drawdown.
“If you want to do something about food waste, you can start today by eating what you already have”
Selina Juul / photo: Alfred Pedersen & Son
What advice would you give to others who want to make a positive impact?
First, do your research. You need to be the most informed person in your field if you want to make an impact. I have been reading reports about food waste for the last 13 years. You need to be very informed because when you talk to people, talk to the media or do TED Talks, you need to have all of your facts straight – it’s very important. Secondly, be the change you want to see in the world.
If you want to do something about food waste, you can start today by eating what you already have. A lot of food waste happens at home. What I do once a week is use up everything in the fridge. Leftovers make nice tapas.
Who do you want to pass a High 5 on to?
I’d love to give a High 5 to Al Gore. I met him a few years ago. He was my biggest inspiration. The “inconvenient truth” that he predicted in his 2006 documentary is happening. He was one of the few who already knew what was coming.