Interview with the Founder and President of Refillar

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Recently, SCAN had the pleasure of interviewing Sam Payne, the President and founder of the new initiative ‘Refillar’. Refillar is one of six current projects in the ‘Enactus’ society and it was started back in July this year.

Sam said that the inspiration behind starting the society was ‘that 4.5 million tonnes of edible food, that’s about 1.3 billion meals, is thrown away a year’. This is obviously an issue on its own, but add the food waste problem to the statistic that ‘1 in 10 people still go hungry in the UK’ then it is apparent that something needs to be done – that is what Refillar are attempting to achieve in Lancaster. Sam was keen to emphasise that food poverty is not just a problem in the most deprived areas around the country but is also ‘prevalent on campus’ and he found that that ‘1 in 3 students have skipped a meal to save money’. 

Refillar seeks to make a three-pronged attack on ‘the climate impact of food, food poverty and food waste’. Sam described the end goal of creating ‘a place where food can be redistributed from shops and local businesses if it’s surplus’ and given to Refillar to sell on instead of going to waste. This social supermarket it still in the pipeline and will hopefully be created by the end of the academic year. Sam says that the aim is to ‘make it as open as possible’. Food would be available at far cheaper prices for students and those most in need could be given it for even more reduced prices.

The support for Refillar has been phenomenal since it was created – the page on Instagram now boasts over 1000 followers. The support is not just coming from students though, Sam mentioned that there were a lot of corporate partners who had ‘been very supportive’. Sam was keen to mention that while it would be great to have new members, you can join the Enactus society to join Refillar, ‘one of the biggest things is just getting the message out there’. There are some very shocking statistics on the Refillar Facebook page that are definitely worth looking at, from food bank usage to the financial difficulties of being a student.

Sam explained that Refillar conducted another survey that showed one of the biggest causes of food waste was students being bad at cooking. Therefore, one of the current plans involves ‘starting cooking classes’, which most students would agree is a good idea. When asked about which budgeting tip Sam would offer all freshers this year, he replied ‘simply to make a budget’. Sam said that it is important to know ‘what you’re getting in and what is  going out’ financially. With this information you can judge whether that night out that you’re considering is a good idea or not. 

Sam ended the interview by simply saying that ‘there is an issue with food waste, there is an issue with food poverty and by following us and keeping up to date with what we’re doing you can get involved and begin to tackle one of the biggest issues the planet is facing’. Well… what are you waiting for? 

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