A 'free' supermarket? His pay-what-you-feel restaurants prove the model is sustainable.

What if you could walk into a store, take what you need, and pay whatever you want for it?

And what if you could help others and save food waste by doing so?

That’s the premise behind The Inconvenience Store, a unique supermarket that opened in June 2018 in Melbourne, Australia. The store collects produce that stores plan to throw away because it’s not fresh (or pretty) enough to sell and "sells" it by donation.


It receives throwaways from a local bakery — breads that aren't good enough to sell but are still perfectly edible — for its patrons to take home. Other things that stores are prepared to toss, like items that are dented or just past their best-before dates, also stock the store's shelves.

There are no cashiers and no set prices — a contribution box sits near the exit as an unassuming invitation to give what you can in exchange for what you take. People can also volunteer at the store as a form of payment and support for the store.

Sounds like do-gooder, people-before-profit stuff, right? It is.

And the founder has already proven that the model works.

The Inconvenience Store is an offshoot of Lentil As Anything, a chain of vegetarian restaurants that has been in operation for 18 years under a similar pay-as-you-feel model.

Founded by Shanaka Fernando, a Sri Lankan immigrant with a passion for food and social justice, Lentil As Anything is on a mission to make meals that serve everyone, regardless of socioeconomic status.

"Restaurant culture separates us from the group at the next table," says the company's website, "and finances separate some from the table entirely. Lentil as Anything believes everyone deserves a place at the table."

Like the store, most of the people who work at the restaurants are volunteers who donate their time because they care about food, culture, and community.

"The underemployed, the homeless, refugees and the disenfranchised are all given an equal opportunity to gain skills and help their fellow humans at Lentil as Anything," says the website.

With no set prices on the menu, diners choose what they pay for their meals based on what they can afford or what they think is a fair price. Key staff are paid, but there's no goal to make a profit. Produce for the restaurants is grown in community urban gardens or collected from stores prior to being thrown away. All extra funds get funneled back into the restaurant.

Fernando has created a community-oriented business model based on integrity, trust, honesty, and shared humanity.

Practically everything about Lentil as Anything and The Inconvenience Store flies in the face of the traditional, profit-based business model.

So how do they stay in business? A question like that has to be asked with the business's goal in mind — not to make a steep profit but to create a cooperative community based on food and culture sharing. It's not about making money but rather about being able to stay open through community effort.

It comes back to the fundamental belief that we're all in this together.

"We call ourselves the human race, but this is not a race," said Fernando in his 2012 TED Talk. "This is not a competition. I prefer the term 'humankind.' It implies kindness. We share an affinity. There is a richness that awaits us and it relies on us, on our individual sense of leadership, on our ability to embrace, be open to each other. And all the answers to environmentalism, to the improvement of humanity, lies in this."  

Putting people and our planet before profits may not be common, but high fives to Shanaka Fernando for proving that it's possible.

Watch Fernando describe his travels around the world that led him to his pay-as-you-feel model:

Images courtesy of Mark Storhaug & Kaiya Bates

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The experiences we have at school tend to stay with us throughout our lives. It's an impactful time where small acts of kindness, encouragement, and inspiration go a long way.

Schools, classrooms, and teachers that are welcoming and inclusive support students' development and help set them up for a positive and engaging path in life.

Here are three of our favorite everyday actions that are spreading kindness on campus in a big way:

Image courtesy of Mark Storhaug

1. Pickleball to Get Fifth Graders Moving

Mark Storhaug is a 5th grade teacher at Kingsley Elementary in Los Angeles, who wants to use pickleball to get his students "moving on the playground again after 15 months of being Zombies learning at home."

Pickleball is a paddle ball sport that mixes elements of badminton, table tennis, and tennis, where two or four players use solid paddles to hit a perforated plastic ball over a net. It's as simple as that.

Kingsley Elementary is in a low-income neighborhood where outdoor spaces where kids can move around are minimal. Mark's goal is to get two or three pickleball courts set up in the schoolyard and have kids join in on what's quickly becoming a national craze. Mark hopes that pickleball will promote movement and teamwork for all his students. He aims to take advantage of the 20-minute physical education time allotted each day to introduce the game to his students.

Help Mark get his students outside, exercising, learning to cooperate, and having fun by donating to his GoFundMe.

Image courtesy of Kaiya Bates

2. Staying C.A.L.M: Regulation Kits for Kids

According to the WHO around 280 million people worldwide suffer from depression. In the US, 1 in 5 adults experience mental illness and 1 in 20 experience severe mental illness, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

Kaiya Bates, who was recently crowned Miss Tri-Cities Outstanding Teen for 2022, is one of those people, and has endured severe anxiety, depression, and selective mutism for most of her life.

Through her GoFundMe, Kaiya aims to use her "knowledge to inspire and help others through their mental health journey and to spread positive and factual awareness."

She's put together regulation kits (that she's used herself) for teachers to use with students who are experiencing stress and anxiety. Each "CALM-ing" kit includes a two-minute timer, fidget toolboxes, storage crates, breathing spheres, art supplies and more.

Kaiya's GoFundMe goal is to send a kit to every teacher in every school in the Pasco School District in Washington where she lives.

To help Kaiya achieve her goal, visit Staying C.A.L.M: Regulation Kits for Kids.

Image courtesy of Julie Tarman

3. Library for a high school heritage Spanish class

Julie Tarman is a high school Spanish teacher in Sacramento, California, who hopes to raise enough money to create a Spanish language class library.

The school is in a low-income area, and although her students come from Spanish-speaking homes, they need help building their fluency, confidence, and vocabulary through reading Spanish language books that will actually interest them.

Julie believes that creating a library that affirms her students' cultural heritage will allow them to discover the joy of reading, learn new things about the world, and be supported in their academic futures.

To support Julie's GoFundMe, visit Library for a high school heritage Spanish class.

Do YOU have an idea for a fundraiser that could make a difference? Upworthy and GoFundMe are celebrating ideas that make the world a better, kinder place. Visit upworthy.com/kindness to join the largest collaboration for human kindness in history and start your own GoFundMe.

This article originally appeared on 11.21.16


Photographer Katie Joy Crawford had been battling anxiety for 10 years when she decided to face it straight on by turning the camera lens on herself.

In 2015, Upworthy shared Crawford's self-portraits and our readers responded with tons of empathy. One person said, "What a wonderful way to express what words cannot." Another reader added, "I think she hit the nail right on the head. It's like a constant battle with yourself. I often feel my emotions battling each other."

So we wanted to go back and talk to the photographer directly about this soul-baring project.

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When a pet is admitted to a shelter it can be a traumatizing experience. Many are afraid of their new surroundings and are far from comfortable showing off their unique personalities. The problem is that's when many of them have their photos taken to appear in online searches.

Chewy, the pet retailer who has dedicated themselves to supporting shelters and rescues throughout the country, recognized the important work of a couple in Tampa, FL who have been taking professional photos of shelter pets to help get them adopted.

"If it's a photo of a scared animal, most people, subconsciously or even consciously, are going to skip over it," pet photographer Adam Goldberg says. "They can't visualize that dog in their home."

Adam realized the importance of quality shelter photos while working as a social media specialist for the Humane Society of Broward County in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

"The photos were taken top-down so you couldn't see the size of the pet, and the flash would create these red eyes," he recalls. "Sometimes [volunteers] would shoot the photos through the chain-link fences."

That's why Adam and his wife, Mary, have spent much of their free time over the past five years photographing over 1,200 shelter animals to show off their unique personalities to potential adoptive families. The Goldbergs' wonderful work was recently profiled by Chewy in the video above entitled, "A Day in the Life of a Shelter Pet Photographer."