Replate: Leave your Leftovers

For the past couple months, I have been attempting to diet. I say attempting because I'm not really succeeding, but that's fodder for a different post. Anyway, I go to the meetings when I can. At one of the meetings, members of the group were advocating throwing away food so that you don't consume it. And I can see their point -- I would rather not have the tempting food in my house. But I have major issues with just throwing food away.

A few months ago, I noticed that Jocelyn linked to a San Francisco based website encouraging people to "replate" their food. By the website's definition, replate is:

To place unwanted leftovers, typically in a doggie bag, on top of the nearest trash can so that they don't go to waste.

So that's what I've started doing with my leftovers to avoid bringing them home and consuming them. For years, I've looked for someone to give my food to when possible. And I've always had good experiences doing this. But sometimes you can't find someone, or as a single woman in the city sometimes it's just too late or scary to walk around looking for a person to give food to.


Replate's founders, Axel Albin and Josh Kamler, don't claim this is a new idea. "We didn't invent the practice," Axel told me on Monday. In fact, Josh remembers his parents replating leftovers 20 years ago. But they have given some structure to the movement. "The purpose of our project is to start the conversation," said Axel. And start the conversation they have. Look around on the Internet and you'll see varying opinions about whether replating is a good idea.

While the practice may be debatable in rural areas where leftovers may spoil or become litter, many of us live in cities where we see people digging through the trash for food on a regular basis. And packages I have left near my home are gone within an hour. A post on Serious Eats garnered a suggestion that people write "EDIBLE" on the outside of a package before leaving it out.

Albin and Kamler are calling this movement "open-source activism" and are hoping that interested parties take the seed that they've planted and run with it -- creating stickers to put on replated items, changing the logo, or lobbying government for participation.

I find it refreshing, and can truly say that reading about replating changed the way that I act with my leftovers. And being able to plant an idea that results in a change in behavior is no small feat.