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One Woman Has Reduced Denmark’s Food Waste by 25%

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Over the last five years, Denmark has reduced its food waste by 25%, and the government is crediting one person with making it happen: Selina Juul.

The 36-year old Juul moved to Denmark from Russia when she was 13 years old. Even as a teenager, she was appalled with the amount of food that grocery stores in her new home wasted.

“I come from a country where there were food shortages, we had the collapse of infrastructure, communism collapsed, we were not sure we could get food on the table,” she explains.

So Juul decided to do something about it. In 2008, she founded an organization called Stop Spild Af Mad, which translates to Stop Wasting Food.

The organization has been Juul’s launching point to become a food activist in Denmark. She has written articles, published cookbooks, and campaigned for the food industry in Denmark to be less wasteful.

“She was this crazy Russian woman that walked in the door, with a crazy idea about stop wasting food and she has come really far since,” says Maria Noel, a communication officer with a Danish retail company. “She basically changed the entire mentality in Denmark.”

Many prominent Danish politicians have praised Juul and the Stop Wasting Food organization with the country’s reduction in food waste in recent years. In that time, Denmark has actually turned into one of Europe’s leaders in reducing food waste.

One of Juul’s biggest victories was when she convinced Denmark’s top low-cost supermarket, Rema 1000, to give single item discounts rather than quantity discounts, a change that has drastically reduced waste for certain foods.

Denmark also reached a great milestone last year with the country’s first food surplus supermarket, an accomplishment that was undoubtedly inspired by Juul.

Of course, the fight to reduce food waste is far from over. Juul has made great strides when it comes to retailers in Denmark, and for her the next frontier is reducing the amount of food wasted by consumers.

“Food waste is the lack of respect for our nature, for our society, for the people who produce the food, for the animals, and the lack of respect for our time and your money,” Juul says.

Just think, if one person caused a 25% drop in food waste in an entire country, imagine what could happen if more people joined the fight against food waste.