Olio – The food sharing revolution

Since having children, I can not get over how much of my time is spent planning the next meal. It’s fairly standard to be contemplating what am I going to cook for tea, before I’ve even had breakfast. And while I’m a big believer that food is one of lifes simple pleasures, it’s not quite the same once you’re the one dreaming up all the meal-time ideas. Children (or at least mine) don’t seem to have nearly as much appreciation for tucking in – leaving you with a cupboard of products, a fridge full of vegetables and far too much waste.

As a woman who can’t abide gluttony or waste in equal measures, it frustrates me when I find myself throwing perfectly good food away, just because it didn’t get eaten. It would seem I’m not alone in my thinking.

As a mother of two young children, Tessa Cook was equally as frustrated when she was planning to leave the country and didn’t want to throw perfectly good food away. She grew up in Wiltshire in a farming family & was taught to understand the hard work that goes into producing food. So when as an adult she found herself knocking on neighbour’s doors, trying to give away food away – it made her think, half the problem was a communications problem. If people knew of somewhere to give or leave their food & tell other people, there wouldn’t be quite so much waste.

And so OLIO was born. In between bringing up her own real baby on maternity leave, Tessa also launched OLIO – a food sharing revolution. Or put simply – an app that lets you upload a photo of your food & share it. To quote Tessa, the collect results of lots of action, is massive change. The simplicity of OLIO, is it lets lots of people, take lots of action.

Oilio business partners - the food sharing app

Tessa & her business partner Saasha Celestial-One are the brains behind OLIO. The two of them met at business school in Californa and shared the same philosophy to waste. So when Tessa had the brainwave to launch a food sharing app, Tessa was the obvious person to work with.

The idea is simple and is the app is straight-forward. There’s no fees to pay to sign up or to download it, the two of them just want to every one to get on board.

It was launched in London last year, after piloting the scheme with a small group of 12 people. Together they formed a WhatsApp group and posted photos of unwanted food, for other people to have. The first post was a half a bag of shallots!

It was off the back of the trialed group, that they took the responses and came up with the app. It’s a classic chicken & egg situation, as the more people who are on it, the better it works – yet has does it work when you’re getting started?

Tessa explained that ambassadors in cities makes a real difference. People who are championing the app and spreading the word. In fact, Bristol was the second city to get it – as they were so cross it was launched in London first! Tessa explained it works well in Bristol, as people are interested in environmental issues & early adopters. Today there are 50,000 people on the app and 10,000 people using it every month.

It’s impossible to talk to Tessa and not talk passionately about stats. She explained the average UK family, is throwing away £700 of food year. Which equates to £8 billion of food being waste each year, because we don’t eat it on time or no longer want it.

The numbers boggle. Yet with OLIO, I can do my bit, while preparing a family meal. Or as Tessa says, if half the food that gets wasted, gets wasted in the home – then half of us have the solution.

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