We spoke to Tessa Cook, co founder of OLIO and “mum on a mission” to help tackle food waste in the UK
Tell us about OLIO and how the idea came about?
My co-founder Saasha and I believe passionately that good food should be eaten and not thrown away.
It sounds obvious, but the difficult truth is that a third of all food produced in the world is wasted. Closer to home, UK households – which are responsible for half of all food waste – bin over £12bn of edible food per year, at a cost of £700 to the average family. On top of that, food waste is an expensive outgoing for local stores and councils and is a huge emitter of greenhouse gases. So we launched OLIO in the hope of addressing these problems by combining cutting-edge mobile technology with the power of the sharing economy and an engaged local community.
OLIO is a free app that connects neighbours with each other and with local independent shops and cafes so that surplus food can be shared, not thrown away. Users simply snap a picture of their items and add them to OLIO, where neighbours receive customised alerts and can request anything that takes their fancy. Pick-up then takes place at the home, the store, an OLIO Drop Box, or another agreed location.
How can Londoners get involved?
Very easily! OLIO is free to download on your iPhone or Android so people can get sharing food today. If you have surplus food you won’t get around to eating, add it to OLIO, and if you fancy trying something new or want to access free or discounted food, why not browse OLIO!
Using OLIO is one way to get involved – and everyone should of course be doing that – but we’re also on the lookout for volunteers (we call them ‘Ambassadors’) to help spread the word about OLIO in their neighbourhoods. To find out more information on how Londoners can get involved, please click here.
We heard you were giving out oranges at Brixton tube, sounds good to us! What other London based initiatives can we expect to see?
You can expect to see us popping up all over London giving away more yummy free food to commuters, because not only does it stop good food from going to waste, it also helps spread the word about OLIO and our mission.
You can also expect to see more OLIO Pot Luck events where people in the local community bring along either a starter, main or dessert to share, and have an afternoon of fun together in an interesting community space.
What top advice would you give to Londoners to help them cut food waste?
Our top tip is to try and get better at planning your meals for the week, and then shopping to that plan, but we recognise that life doesn’t always work out like that. Other ideas include freezing more to extend the life of the food we buy, or cutting back on portion sizes so we actually finish everything on the plate.
However, one other top tip stands out for us, that’s really fun and easy to use… it’s called OLIO! 🙂