Food waste is an issue that often bothers me as I know despite best intentions we’re certainly guilty of it in our house. We’re definitely not alone with UK households throwing away a horrifying 7 million of food waste a year, but there’s a new app, Olio, which might be able to help.
Be honest, how many times have you found yourself throwing away food which could have been eaten if you’d been more organised? If the answer is never then you’re a better person than I. Maybe you bought or made more than you could eat before it went off, maybe nobody in the house liked and it sat unloved at the back of a cupboard for so long it practically grew legs and walked out, maybe you grew some fruit or veg which ripened all at once and you didn’t have time to preserve it.
Anything that offers an easy way to reduce waste – and also opportunities to get free food – is definitely going to get me interested. So when I heard about a food sharing app that allows people and businesses with surplus food to offer it to other users, I downloaded it straight away to check it out.
The idea behind Olio is really simple. Basically, if you have any food which is edible but you aren’t going to use it for whatever reason stick a picture and description of it on Olio and other users can request it. You can specify the place and timeframe in which people can come and collect.
You don’t have to give to receive – simply have a browse of the listings, see what’s in your area and make a request for anything you can use. You can look for items listed by distance, or there is a map view option.
Olio can also be used for non-food items – household goods and furniture and so on. I can see it gradually replacing sites such as Freecycle/Freegle as though these are great they are quite old-fashioned now, being still mostly run on very basic message/boards email list systems like it’s 2003 or something. I have used these a fair few times, but I’ve often though I would use them more if there was an app to make the process quicker and more efficient, so I think this has been a long time coming.
There is an option to charge money for items though this is limited to 50% of what you paid for it and from what I’ve seen most items are offered free. To my mind, charging is kind of going against the collective spirit of trying to share resources and do something positive – maybe one to consider only if you’ve bought too much and are desperately skint!
There is also a ‘drop box’ option for non-perishable food and small non-food item if you don’t fancy going to people’s door or having them come to yours. Drop boxes are just plastic boxes held at shops or cafes and you list and request as normal but agree that the Drop box location will be used for the handover. If you know any cafes or shops which might be willing to host a drop box, why not get them to sign up here?
People need to get downloading, using and sharing this as soon as possible
At the moment, it’s still early days for Olio and there are only a small number of available items near me, though looking on the map I can see in some cities there is a lot more activity.
Hopefully this will improve everywhere as word spreads and more and more people download it and get involved. This is the kind of thing that needs a bit of momentum to get going and be really effective, and I think it’s such a great idea that I REALLY WANT IT TO HAPPEN! To download Olio go to the website and click ‘Get the App’. If you’d like to help spread the word please do share this post using the handy share buttons below.
Has anyone tried this yet, or anything similar? What are your thoughts?