My involvement in food waste started almost three years ago when I was moving country and found myself on moving day with some good food that we hadn’t managed to eat, but that I couldn’t bring myself to throw away. And so I set off on a bit of a wild goose chase to try and find someone to give it to, and I failed miserably. Through the whole process it seemed to me crazy that I should have to throw this food away when there were surely plenty of people within hundreds of metres of me who would love it, the problem was they just didn’t know about it! And so this was the lightbulb moment for the idea of OLIO, a mobile app where neighbours and local shops & cafes can share surplus food, rather than throw it away. And then when my Co-Founder Saasha Celestial-One and I researched the problem of food waste more broadly and discovered just how much is thrown away, with devastating environmental and social consequences, we knew we had to take action and bring OLIO to life.
How it works
Using OLIO is simple! Simply snap a picture of your unwanted food and add it to the app. Your neighbours then receive customised alerts and can request anything that takes their fancy. Pick-up takes place – often the same day – at home or another agreed location. And although it might feel strange at first sharing your spare with a neighbour, you’ll be amazed how popular the food is, with half of all food listings being requested in less than one hour!! Plus you get to meet a lovely neighbour who wants – and sometimes needs – that food, and so it feels incredible to share. If you take a look on the app you’ll see a whole host of things, from food nearing its use-by date from shops, cafes and markets; to spare vegetables from the allotment; to cakes from amateur bakers; to groceries from household fridges when people go away, move home or start a diet.
How do I get started?
We always suggest a bit of a spring clean of your cupboards, because most of us have lots of good intentions lurking at the back that are realistically never going to be used! So why not give it a shot, and share with your neighbour instead? OLIO now has over 300,000 users and is spreading fast thanks to our 13,000 and counting volunteers who are spreading the word in their local community, and collecting unsold food from their local bakery, supermarket etc. If you want to join them, then you can find out more here! OLIO is free to download from the App Store and Google Play.