OLIO is a free app that connects neighbours with each other and with local independent shops so surplus food can be shared, not thrown away.
This could include food nearing its use-by date from shops, cafes and markets; spare vegetables from the allotment; cakes from an amateur baker; or groceries from household fridges when people go away or move home.
To access the app, users simply snap a picture of their items and add them to OLIO. Neighbours then receive customised alerts and can request anything that takes their fancy, and arrange pick-up from home, the store, an OLIO Drop Box, or another agreed location.
The inspiration for the app came from the early experiences of co-founders Tessa Cook and Saasha Celestial-One, entrepreneurs raised in rural families witnessing the scandal of food waste close up.
Cook grew up on a farm, effectively seeing a third of her family’s hard work go to waste, while Celestial-One is the daughter of Iowa hippies and equally passionate about the issue.
Rob Noyes, environment and ethics officer from the Newcastle University Students' Union believes the new service will complement a number of sustainability projects already happening in Newcastle.
“When so many go hungry both globally and locally – continuing to waste food on the scale we do is unacceptable. But it is easily done. Now, it can be easily prevented.
“By clicking a button we can revolutionise the way we think about food. It’s exciting to see how much interest there is in Newcastle for OLIO!”
Since launching in December 2015, OLIO has been used over 250,000 times and featured twice by Apple as ‘Best new app’ in the App Store.
OLIO was also the first retail technology start-up Sainsbury’s partnered with on their ‘Waste Less, Save More’ initiative.
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