We all know the feeling. You visit the grocery store at the start of the week with the best of intentions, stocking up on veggies and herbs to make that hearty winter soup you saw your favorite food blogger post on Instagram.
Then, as the week rolls by, your bestie offers to take you out for dinner, you end up getting a little too drunk after work and order a pizza, and your less than charming Tinder date suggests you go and get a kebab to finish off your (terrible) evening.
All the while, your poor, well-intentioned soup ingredients remain in your fridge, taking up space and annoying your housemates. Then, as Sunday rolls around, you realise you still haven’t made that soup, the ingredients have turned soggy and gross, and you have to throw everything in the bin. What a waste.
Thankfully, as is increasingly the case in our tech-obsessed world: there’s now an app that can fix your food waste woes for good. Olio is the food waste solution that connects you with people in your nearby area who could actually make use of that food sitting in your fridge or kitchen cupboards.
Olio is the brain child of co-founders Tessa Cook and Saasha Celestial-One. According to Cook, her “lightbulb moment” came back in 2014, when she was packing up her apartment in Switzerland, getting ready to move back to the UK.
Cook explained: “Despite our best efforts to eat everything we had, we were still left with six sweet potatoes, a whole white cabbage and some pots of yogurt. The removal men told me that all the food had to be thrown away, but I just couldn’t bring myself to do this.”
She continued: “I thought about knocking on my neighbours’ doors to see if they wanted it, but the problem was I didn’t know if they would be in, and even if they were in, I didn’t really know them and it might be a bit awkward if they didn’t want what I was offering.
“Feeling thoroughly defeated I thought to myself: ‘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 the idea for OLIO was born.”
So what are some of the most common items sold on the app? Well, according to Olio’s Sweden manager Anne-Charlotte Mornington: “I would say that bread and pastries collected by our volunteers from shops we have partnerships with are probably the most abundant because new batches of the same thing are being uploaded every day.
“The household supply changes very much depending on the season, for example over Xmas or Easter, tones of chocolate will be shared from all the people who just get given too much for their own consumption.”
Aside from Olio, Mornington also suggests planning meals (and actually sticking to it!), along with cooking from scratch and using the leftovers in your next recipe. Other ideas include extending food life by making sure you’ve got the right fridge temperature, freezing fresh herbs, and even regrowing celery. Another top tip? Use your own judgement to decide if something actually needs to be thrown out – best before dates are only guides, after all.
The app aims to tackle the sobering fact that one third of the food produced for human consumption gets lost or wasted – over 1.3 billion tonnes annually. The food currently wasted in Europe alone could feed a staggering 200 million people. It’s a massive problem to fix, but apps like Olio seem like the perfect place to start.