The App that wants us to share more and waste less.

Established in 2015, OLIO is a food sharing app whose mission it is to stop food wastage. While food sharing apps like ‘Too Good to Go’ have a similar aim, OLIO is different in its focus. As opposed to collecting food from companies, OLIO wants to promote the sharing of food between individuals inside of communities.

The app couldn’t be simpler to use. Just browse through listings of spare food and message others when they see food they would like to collect. After arranging a pickup time and location, the users meet and share their food.

The idea of OLIO came to founder, Tessa Clarke, in 2014 when she was moving from her apartment in Switzerland. After finding she had six sweet potatoes, a white cabbage and a few pots of yogurt left, she went around her neighbourhood in search for someone to take them. After being unsuccessful and having to throw away the food, Clarke thought “This is absolutely crazy…. this food is delicious. Why isn’t there an app where I can share it with someone nearby who wants it?”, and so OLIO was born.

Since its launch in 2015, OLIO has shared 2,025,948 portions of food, gained 1,256,620 users and saved approximately 303,489,302 litres of water. This is just the start, as they are striving for even larger impact. Their current goal is to have one billion users by 2029.

The team at OLIO believe this is essential in tackling the grave problem of food wastage. OLIO’s research has shown that about 1/3 of food produced is never eaten and the average UK family is said to throw away 22% of their weekly shop.

If one were to collect the world’s wasted food, it would take up an area larger than China. Whilst retailers are said to waste 2% of food, the household is where most food wastage occurs. This is the main reason the app focuses on neighbours sharing between themselves.

OLIO have partnered with focus and lobbying groups including ‘Love Food Hate Waste’, which aims to promote evidence-based awareness; ‘This is Rubbish’, who highlight the preventability of the food wastage as well as putting pressure on policy makers, and ‘City Harvest’ who redistribute food to those most in need.

As a relatively new project, OLIO is using volunteers as a means of getting more people involved in the ‘food waste revolution’. Their Food Waste Hero programme asks people to dedicate a couple of hours a week to pick up unsold or surplus food from local cafés or shops. Their City champions programme asks individuals to dedicate around six months to help build the profile of the project in their local area. The volunteer Market Makers assist in this task by contacting local shops and individuals regarding the possibility of becoming Zero waste.

OLIO believes ‘that small actions can lead to big change. Collectively – one rescued cupcake, carrot or bottle of lotion at a time – we can build a more sustainable future where our most precious resources are shared, not thrown away.’

To learn more about the project and how to get involved click here.

The above article by Laura Toms first published on goodnewsshared.com in Aug, 2019.