Olivia Powell explores OLIO, a new foodsharing app that can dramatically reduce waste at events.
The idea for OLIO came when Tessa Clarke shared with her co-founder Saasha Celestial-One a story. When moving back to the UK from Switzerland, she found herself with food she wasn’t going to eat.
She didn’t know her neighbours, so she bundled up her new-born and toddler, and went out onto the streets to try to find someone to give it to, but couldn’t find anyone.
When Clarke shared this story, both she and Celestial-One were actively looking to start a business that could tackle an environmental challenge. It caused a ‘lightbulb moment’, and the company was named in an hour – OLIO, meaning ‘hodgepodge’. Five months later it launched on the app store.
Around two months ago, OLIO dedicated part of their company to events full-time, as they identified that there was a real awareness of the amount of waste caused by the events industry, not only in food waste but other perishable items like flowers. Then, they made a solution.
Anyone who is hosting an event and wants to negate food waste can ask OLIO to recruit food-safety trained local volunteers. These volunteers then collect any unserved food and store it safely in their domestic kitchens, where it can be collected by those in their local community. Whilst events were previously a tricky situation in regard to food waste, with OLIO this is no longer an issue. Food goes from the event to people who want it within a couple of hours, and the entire process is governed by OLIO’s food safety managers. With over 3m people fed, and no issues, it seems like a great solution.
OLIO’s ambitions do not stop there – they want to completely overhaul the way we look at food waste, an eventually make wasting viable food a social taboo. With 1.5m users already on the platform, and more food sharing networks popping up over the globe, OLIO may be able to make this goal a reality. In 2018, it won the UN Momentum of Change award in recognition of its potential to significantly mitigate the effects of climate change.
As founder Saasha Celestial-One says: “Can we solve it all? No. Are policy and regulation really important? Yes. Are we going to solve the climate crisis with a food sharing app? No. But, do we believe that billions of small actions got us into this mess, and that billions of small actions can get us back out again? Absolutely.”