RACHEL FOX

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Share a Meal, Save The Planet

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The weekly shop is often an excuse for individuals to pick up every tasty looking treat, but all too often this impulse leads to excessive food waste. And I assume that many restaurants, cafes and delis struggle with food waste; there is only so much staff can take home.

I first heard about Olio through Deliciously Ella’s collaboration with the brand to tackle this growing problem. This allows the deli to put their food waste to good use rather than it just going into the bin. Ella’s deli donations highlight the scale of what is a much wider problem. In the first nine months the volunteers collected 4,442 items from Ella’s three delis, the equivalent of 2,115 full meals or roughly 888 kilograms of food. They calculated that this also diverted 3,832kg of carbon dioxide from damaging the atmosphere.

Deliciously Ella loves working with them and I can definitely see why. “Olio was a complete revolution for us as a company. It allowed us to put food waste to good use rather than just into the bin." – Deliciously Ella

Olio volunteers collect the day’s freshly produced excess, before listing it on their app and distributing it to anyone in need of a meal. I admire the work that they do; it is an app that doesn’t discriminate. Users can be those too busy to go shopping, dealing with one of life’s unexpected events, or simply those currently facing financial struggles.

Olio connects neighbours with each other and with local businesses so surplus food can be shared, not thrown away. This could be food nearing its sell-by date in local stores, spare home-grown vegetables, bread from your baker, or the groceries in your fridge when you go away. To make an item available, simply open the app, add a photo, description, and when and where the item is available for pick-up.

To access items, simply browse the listings available near you, request whatever takes your fancy and arrange a pick-up via private messaging.

Roughly a third of users are from households that are living in poverty and access to fresh, healthy, nutritious food can actually be very challenging; it can often be easier to eat things that are tinned or processed. For them, being able to access fresh food for free is in my opinion, great.

Food waste is the 3rd largest source of greenhouse gas emissions. Tessa, the co-founder of Olio explained that globally we throw away 1/3 of all the food we produce every year, which is worth over $1 trillion each year.

I can really feel Olio’s passion and it’s absolutely shown me that we can really do something about this issue, both in helping the planet and all the people on it. I hope the more we talk about solutions to issues like this, the closer we’ll get to solving the monumental problems of food waste and food scarcity.

There is plenty we can all do to help. Take a slightly browned banana for example, don’t throw it out, make a banana bread or there will be someone down your street who like to make banana bread or add it a curry. Look at the food in your fridge and cupboards for food that’s realistically not going to be used. Take it out, take a photo and share it with someone who will use it.

Half of food waste happens at home and that means we are half the problem, compared to less than 5% at a retail store level. However, it also means we are half the solution; we can make small changes ourselves; the key is being more considerate about what actually you are going to eat.

The average UK family throws away 22% of the weekly shop, which averages £700 per year, and collectively adds up to £13billion. As an example over 1.4 million bananas, 25 million slices of bread and 6 million potatoes are thrown away every day. Yet despite all the waste, 800 million people across the world go to bed hungry each night and in the UK 8 million people are living in food insecurity, with 5 million of these are living in severe food insecurity, they don’t know where their next meal is coming from.

I believe that sharing food is a brilliant way to cut back on the wastage. I strongly feel that small actions can lead to big changes. Collectively we can build a more sustainable future where our most precious resources are shared, not thrown away.

Rachel

FoodRachel Fox