Reason #654684 to LOVE Wellington..The Free Store.

Down the road from my little flat, in Left Bank off Cuba St, sits a little blue shed opposite my favorite second-hand book shop. The Free Store. This store was opened up by my friend from church, Ben Johnson, and his wife Elise at the end of last year, and has been such a success!

"The Free Store is a not-for-profit organisation that seeks to redistribute perfectly edible surplus food to those who self-determine themselves as being in need...
The Free Store is a team of people committed to the reduction of consumable surplus through intervention and reallocation. The Free Store is a universal social service, recognising that food is a basic human right, regardless of need or socioeconomic status. The Free Store is an expression of community, and seeks to nurture community."

I've recently stared volunteering here - the idea is basically that we collect surplus food, donated from a whole lot of bakery's, cafes and fruit and vege shops, and then distribute it through the Free Store to those who come with a self-determined need. Whoever comes to get food is given food. No discrimination, no regulation, no limits to the love.

Apart from a blatant advertisement (extra volunteers would be a God-send, and anyone who wants to come visit us and leave with a full belly is more than welcome), this post is also a note on a particular passion of mine. One thing I have fallen in love with about Wellington is the community, and the creativity. This little city is bursting full of people who are living lives of generosity. Lives full of a desire to do something different, to make a difference. 

 Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. As it is written:
   “They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor;
   their righteousness endures forever.”
(2 Corinthians 9)

Too often I am caught in a cycle of selfishness. Too often in our society, it is all about keeping the best for us, consuming as much as possible, and forgetting our calling to give freely. Gandhi said, "There is enough in this world for everyone's need, but not for everyone's greed." We are so obsessed with ourselves, with our own happiness, that we are blind to the pain right in front of us. The pain that we have the power to relieve, to God's glory. And even worse is the fact that every day, after we have fattened ourselves and stuffed ourselves, tonnes of leftovers are thrown away - food and resources that are perfectly ok for consumption, wasted. Because we can't see past our own selfish desires.

Not only is this waste an insult to those who can't afford to throw out bags of food every day, but it is also a hugely unsustainable habit that we cannot keep up with. As a global population, humans are living off 1.3 Earths - as in, the resources we consume and the waste we produce is more than our Earth can sustain. A significantly dangerous place to be in...in the last 20 years CO2 emissions have increased dramatically. By 2020, some 75 to 250 million people in Africa will face increased water shortages. We are already seeing this with the 12 million starving people facing famine in the Horn of Africa. Yields from rain-fed agriculture (dominant method) could fall by up to 50 per cent in some African countries. Widespread melting of glaciers and snow cover will create risk of flash floods and, over time, reduce annual melt water from major mountain ranges (i.e.: Hindu-Kush, Himalaya, Andes), where more than one billion people live (info here). It is scary. Yet we continue to live lives in complete ignorance of the heartbreaking devastation we are causing.

The Free Store is just one way of seeing this gap, and attempting to fill it by lessening the waste produced in Wellington city, and giving food to those who need it. But every day, we can make this choice. Use energy-saving light bulbs. Cut meat out of your diet a few days a week. Give someone on the street your lunch. Use public transport. Don't throw out your leftovers - eat them for lunch the next day, and save money and resources by not buying that next days lunch. Buy a little organic, support free-range, consume local produce. Freely give, and you receive. 

Your kids will thank you for it.

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