I use a food waste management app to get free food

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I use a food waste management app to get free food

I use Olio to get free food and find new owners for items I no longer want. It’s an app against food waste, but users also donate clothes, books and household items. Olio has around 6.3 million users, its co-founder told Insider. Loading Loading something.

I’ve been using a food waste management app for months to get free food and find homes for items I no longer want.

Olio, a British app that connects users with free food, ingredients, clothing and household items, is quickly gaining popularity.

People can also use oils to donate items they no longer want, including leftovers, unwanted clothes, and books they’ve read.

Since I started using the app in May, I’ve stocked up on meals, including croissants, sandwiches, and long-lasting pantry items. I’ve also used Olio to find new homes for the books I read, the clothes I love, and the sweet rice I realize I’ll never cook.

A screenshot of the list in the Olio app. Screenshot of the Olio app

I saved money using Olio, but the main thing for me is to avoid throwing away food while it’s still edible.

Lots of people use the app to donate items when they leave home, but some use it to donate food before they go on vacation, because they bought a product they found they didn’t like, or simply because they are draining.

But there is another side to Olio. Organizations such as retailers and cafes can pay to use Olio as a waste disposal service. Volunteers – called “food waste heroes” – collect items from a store when they are expired. Olio says he has 63,000 food waste heroes, mostly in the UK.

All users must enter a description, submit photos, and indicate when and where the product can be picked up.

For food, users often also mention expiry dates. Sometimes the details are in-depth, others are vague. I once used the app to collect what was simply listed as “crossants”. The user gave me his address, where I had 47 pastries waiting on his doorstep.

Other foods I stockpiled included items from Amazon Fresh and Pret A Manger, as well as canned tea, cookies and soup from people who were cleaning or moving.

A ready-to-eat salad that I picked up at Olio. Grace Dean/Initiate

Everything at Olio is free. Users may not accept money or any other compensation in exchange for products.

An important thing to remember is that business listings are usually because the food is about to expire Prepackaged products come with dates, but for some items, like croissants, it’s a matter of whether it is safe to leave them out for a few days.

After setting your approximate location in the app, Olio displays nearby items available to pick up. You can choose the distance you want to travel and filter to see new listings Dozens of new items are added to Olio every day within the three mile radius I use.

My profile in the Olio application. Screenshot of the Olio app

Collecting and sharing items can seem a bit daunting at first. Your profile has your first name and you don’t need to add a photo of yourself, but I think it makes you feel more trustworthy when collecting items.

When you download an item, you define its own pickup location. While in many cases users allow people to pick up their car from their home, they can also set the pickup location as a public place.

After donating an item, both parties are asked to rate each other. Olio says users who fail to view collections may have their app terminated and it’s easy to report other users for misconduct.

The app is separate from Too Good to Go, which also fights food waste. It only features business listings from the companies themselves and users collect them from the organization in question. You also have to pay for these items and they are basically done on a “magic bag” basis where you don’t know what you will get until you collect it.

Tessa Clark, one of the company’s co-founders, told Insider she had a “lightbulb moment” in 2014 when she moved house and tried to donate junk food. The Olio application went online in July 2015.

Clark said it now has 6.3 million registered users, up from 2.3 million in September 2020 and 4.7 million a year later. Half of the meals listed on the app are requested within about 20 minutes, he added.

Information on my influence on the Olio application. Screenshot of the Olio app

Singapore, Ireland and Mexico, as well as the UK, also have large numbers of Olio users, Clarke said. She is also active in the United States.

Clark said businesses partner with Olio so they can be zero waste. He said these companies don’t have time to list their products or come back to Olio after first trying to give to charity.

Volunteering can be a long-term commitment, with some helpers helping out once and others collecting items several times a week. Volunteers can keep up to 10% of the food they collect for redistribution, making it popular among students, Clark said.

The app raised €43 million ($43 million) in a funding round last September.

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