Inderscience Publishers

Collaborative housing and environmental efficiency: the case of food preparation and consumption

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In theory, food handling in collaborative housing systems could have a number of environmental advantages compared with households and food service institutions. This paper explores to what extent some of these theoretical advantages are realised in two collaborative housing units in a major Swedish city. Food-related energy use and waste flows were measured and compared with results from food service institutions and some data relevant for households. Results show that energy use for cooking decreases in collaborative houses compared with households but energy use for food storage increases. Plate and food preparation wastes are low in the studied collaborative houses but food leftovers may be abundant. The latter result depends on how the dining system is organised. A bottleneck for improving the environmental efficiency in collaborative housing is the static view of apartment design held by many architects and real estate owners. Another bottleneck may be the unwillingness of households to make advance commitments to daily dining.

Keywords: collaborative housing, cooking, food handling, kitchen use, leftovers, resource management, environmental efficiency, Sweden, energy use, waste flows, food service institutions, households, co-housing, food preparation

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