OLIO – the app that helps avoid food waste

So much food, which takes so much energy, work and care to be made, gets wasted every single day…bag loads of edible food are discarded merely yards away from people who cannot even afford to buy it. It breaks my heart.
It’s a symptom of a failed food system, and even though it may be the norm in the Global North it does not mean it’s right.

This video says it all: The Extraordinary Life and Times of a Strawberry. It’s under 2 minutes and well worth a watch.

The good news is, we can all do something to prevent this is awful waste.
During class, one day, someone mentioned there was an app which helps reduce food waste by connecting people who have surplus / unwanted / unnecessary food to others who want or need it.

At last! I have been thinking for years that there should be a way of connecting surplus food, or about to expire food, from different businesses with people who may need it or who’d want to use it to make meals for others. Well, this is the closest I have heard of, and it’s accessible and easy to use.

After noting the name down I downloaded the app.

Olio food sharing app

Olio – the food sharing app


OLIO was launched in July 2015 and the app has since been used over 200,000 times, it was launched to be UK wide in January this year.

It is really straightforward to use: first of all, download the app, for free. 🙂
When you have some food you don’t want, take a picture of it and add it to the listing – it is really easy – add a brief description of what you have on offer, when it’s best to be picked up and wait for someone interested to arrange a pick-up time!

If you are looking for food, rather than offering it, it’s useful to turn on the notifications for the app, which will let you know when someone near you has added something you may be interested in.


It is particularly useful when:

  • someone gives you food you don’t like / don’t want to eat / are trying to avoid eating / unwanted food gifts
  • if you accidentally buy the wrong product – sometimes if may be worth offering it to someone else rather than sticking it in the cupboard and letting it expire
  • you are about to go away from home and won’t be able to eat something beforehand
  • when you simply have too much food, if you’re lucky enough to have that as a problem
  • if you buy too much of something / make too much (cooking practice batches)… no need to throw good food away and waste it, someone else can enjoy it, whatever it may be! 😀


According to the OLIO website, 50% from all food waste in the UK comes from homes, which just saddens me so much. But! It also means we can all be more mindful and decrease and avoid that waste on a daily basis.


1/3 of food globally goes to waste – WTF


£12.5 billion of perfectly edible food is thrown away by UK households every year, that’s equivalent to £35 million a day. :O


The average UK family throws away £700 of food that could’ve been eaten – the connection that some don’t make is that the same food was most likely bought with money, so throwing food away means throwing money away.


Have a look at the OLIO website for more information about how to use it and more food waste facts.

Avoiding food waste will save you money, may enable you to meet neighbours and try things you wouldn’t try otherwise, reduce waste and feel great about it.


I used OLIO myself, a few months ago. I had some dried pasta that my friend left that wasn’t vegan and which my flatmates didn’t want. I took a picture of it, wrote a short description of what it was and the expiry date and a few days later someone came to pick it up. IT WORKS! 🙂

A few weeks after that I was having a look at the food available close to home and someone had just added two swedes and two packs of celery. A couple of hours later I picked them up from a girl who said they’d come in her vegetable delivery but weren’t going to get used up as  she was going away for a few days.
I had free organic vegetables and she avoided wasting them, it worked again!!! 😀


Free vegetables and zero waste

Free vegetables and zero waste


An additional thing I love is that OLIO is now helping businesses to share unsold food, either for free or at 50% off minimum.


There are great ways to help develop further and reduce food waste even more: you can volunteer for OLIO, who regularly give food away for free at stations and events, and encourage others to use it, add food yourself or talk about it to local shops and businesses, which I have done and want to carry on doing for sure!

News about another Brexit vote caused recession looming and of parents skipping meals in order to feed their children – in Wales – during the school break may be yet another incentive to defeat food waste.


US Food Admin Poster from WWI

US Food Administration Poster from WWI – still valid


And if you’re a pro at preventing food waste already, you may find it useful to know that you can now add non-food items to OLIO too: items including toiletries, cleaning products, kitchen equipment can be shared on there too! 🙂


More information:


  • Save the Food  | US data-based, with calculators showing how much water you could save with the food that you save and tips on how to store food better for longer and reduce waste.
    It includes a useful page on deciphering “use by” dates on packaged food. (Use your eyes and nose 😛 )


  • Still Tasty: a comprehensive guide on how to best store & how long to store food to avoid wasting it.




I have added some of these staple, forever-useful links on a separate page on the blog for easy access.

So if you like the sound of OLIO as a food-saving app, remember to download it. It seems to be a type of initiative which works more efficiently the more people take part in it, so make sure to give it a go to create a virtuous circle of consciousness about food waste.


Had you heard of OLIO before? Have you used it?

What would you find useful to avoid food waste?


Leave a comment, I would love to know what you think!

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