In a world where we feel more divided than ever due to social distancing, a new initiative is battling against this to bring us together.
An incredible project is not only helping people connect socially, but also fighting waste by saving the planet too.
OLIO is an app that is encouraging millions of people to giving away food and other household items to their neighbours, all for free.
Co-founded by Tessa Clarke and Saasha Celestial-One, their objective is to build a more sustainable future where resources are shared rather than thrown away.
Their belief that small actions can lead to big change is what paved the way for their venture, and now they are leading the way in how the public views food nearing its sell-by date or how we dispose of leftover home-grown fruit and vegetables.
Having created a tool that is easy to use, people are simply invited to download the app, add a photo and description of the products they are donating, then include when and where the items are available for pick-up.
The app also includes browsing options to see listings available near your area and a private messaging service to arrange individual collections.
Speaking about what inspired her to launch OLIO, Tessa said the idea came about after she moved and was told by the removal men that she had to dispose of the remaining food in her fridge as they would not move it between properties.
Tessa explained: “I grew up on my parents’ dairy farm in North Yorkshire. It was an amazing childhood in so many ways, but one that had a constant theme running throughout it – work needed to be done. Feeding cows, mucking out, moving stock; it was relentless and ran late into the evening, every day of the year.
“As a result of this, I learned pretty much as soon as I could walk just how much hard work goes into producing the food that we all eat. And so, I grew up with the firm belief that food is meant to be eaten, not thrown away.”
She continued: “The ‘lightbulb’ moment came in 2014. I was packing up our apartment in Switzerland to move back to the UK. Despite our best efforts to eat everything we had, we were 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. And so – much to their frustration as we still had a lot to pack – I got my baby and toddler dressed and set off with this food to find someone to give it to.
“Unfortunately, the lady who I had hoped to give it to wasn’t in her usual spot outside the supermarket and I got quite upset. I thought about knocking on my neighbours’ doors to see if they wanted it, but I didn’t know if they would be in; and even if they were in, I didn’t know them and it might be 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.”
Meanwhile, fellow co-founder Saasha added: “I’m the daughter of Iowa hippy entrepreneurs (hence the origin of my last name, Celestial-One – which my parents made up!) and I grew up in a large, relatively poor family.
“I spent much of my childhood accompanying my mum on various missions to rescue things that others had discarded – wooden fixtures from foreclosed houses, plants from the greenhouse dumpster, or aluminium soda cans casually tossed aside at the beach.
“In salvaging and reselling these items, I not only earned my pocket money, but I literally learned that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. As a kid, I launched over a dozen scrappy micro-businesses, and I always dreamed of starting my own business one day specifically in the area of food, which is a passion of mine.”
She continued: “Tessa and I met in 2002 and have been close friends ever since. When she told me about her idea for a food-sharing app, I instantly knew it was genius and that I wanted to be a part of the journey bringing it to life.
“Within an hour we had settled on a name and made our plan! No one ever said we don’t dream big or move quickly.”
As they set about putting pen to paper to make their dream a reality, the entrepreneurs were stunned to learn just how much waste is produced by throwaway food.
A third of the food we produce globally is binned, and in the UK, households are responsible for over half of all food waste with the average family chucking £700 worth of food each year – that’s £12.5 billion that is going straight to landfill.
Tessa and Saasha are doing all in their power to drive these figures down and have so far shared over 6million portions of food thanks to their project.
They are also branching out with sister campaign OLIO Made, which allows makers from all over the world to sell handmade crafts and homemade food directly to neighbours.
The dream team have even joined forces with Tesco who are introducing the #NoTimeForWaste project, enlisting the help of OLIO volunteers to visit stores and collect surplus food nearing its sell-by date before distributing it via the app.
Not only are the power duo resourceful and caring, they are also ambitious and are striving for 1billion OLIO users in 10 years’ time.
With their belief in “karma and the power of collaboration”, the app is inclusive and for everybody regardless of background, perspective and thought; with Tessa and Saasha hopeful that their ethos can “empower others to help fulfil our mission”.
Time to start rummaging in the fridge!
For more info, click here: OLIO.