Can you imagine the smell of an entire grocery store full of rotting produce?
For this year’s Adelaide Festival of Ideas in Australia, creative collective The Glue Society designed an art installation called More Than Ten Items or Less, designed to represent the amount of food wasted by each Australian household every year.
The installation looked like a scaled-down grocery store filled with produce, which was left to rot slowly over the four-day festival. Onlookers watched through the windows as strawberries grew fuzzy and onions sprouted.
The piece was the brainchild of artist James Dive, best known for packing an entire amusement park into a 4-meter-square cube. Regarding his goals for the installation, Dive stated, “The purpose of the installation is to kickstart and foster a debate about the issue of food wastage, which is particularly endemic in Australia.”
In the United States alone, the average family throws away 20 pounds of food each month—which amounts to $2,275 a year for a family of four, according to the United States Department of Agriculture. In his January 2013 Business Week article, “The United States of Waste,” Ira Singer writes:
All that uneaten food ends up in our landfills—where else? Food scraps are the No. 1 material sent to landfills in the U.S.—more than paper or plastic, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Our uneaten refuse accounts for about 14 percent of all municipal solid waste, contributing almost 25 percent of methane emissions and costing roughly $1.3 billion to transport and dump in landfills.
And according to environmental activist Vandana Shiva, 50% of the food in the world is being wasted. It might be time for people to pay attention to the food they’re letting rot in their fridge.