Every now and then the internet actually comes up with something undeniably good and helpful, maybe something that would actually be impossible before the 1990’s rather than just being another channel for selling you junk that you don’t need.
I still think Airbnb is probably the best idea ever realised on the Internet, a true way to democratise travel and give those who are happy for the risk on both sides both make and save a little bit of money whilst meeting new people. I even wrote a best-selling book on the matter, How To Get Rich Using Airbnb.
However whilst Airbnb might make life easier, happier and richer, it doesn’t actually benefit the planet. At the end of the day, it is all about making people richer even if it is nice non-corporate people like myself rather than actually improving the planet physically.
Just last month I wrote about the modern obsession with eating out of season food produce, just one of many habits which are wasteful on a global scale.
I really dislike waste and particularly food waste. I am wearing a top that I bought in a charity shop in 2007 and was no doubt old then. My general recycling bin is full every 4-6 weeks, largely by plastic items that I can’t readily source without the plastic. My non-recyclable bin is just never used. I put something in it the week after Christmas, and I could see something else I had put in it, the week after Christmas 2 years earlier.
Last year I came across an App which I really like called Olio. The idea behind it is that it unites people with food (and now non-food) items with people who want the food. No money is exchanged, it is purely done as a service to help people and the planet.
Now it could be that it is precisely the people like myself who don’t waste anything will think this is a great app. However, it also means that I have very little if anything I give away. I don’t buy anything I won’t eat and I won’t cook anything that can’t be eaten, frozen or re-purposed into soups or stews.
In January however, I did have a few things to give away so I thought I would try using the Olio app. People had very thoughtfully given me Christmas and birthday presents, but some of them were things that I couldn’t eat or wouldn’t like to eat. Now I would never have thrown these items away but rather either given them to a charity or just eaten it and not enjoyed it. We do so many things in life that we don’t enjoy, why should eating be any different!
So I put up two items on Olio, and within about 20 minutes I got a message from a nurse who would really appreciate them. We arranged a time for her to drop by and 24 hours later, my unwanted food was safely in the hands of someone who not only would love eat them but who possibly wasn’t rich enough to waste money on non-necessary items… at least non-necessary by way of living.
We were both very happy with this, and she told me that she uses it quite often and picks up all sorts of food items.
There is absolutely no requirement that people who take food must also give it away. It’s an entirely selfless act, and if someone needs or wants to take away food consistently, then it is still helping by not throwing away unwanted items.
The Olio website is at: https://olioex.com , and you can find their App on the Apple App Store and Googleplay
It’s very quick and easy to get started. Just create a simple profile. Look on the map for people nearby who are giving away food or alternatively, take a photo of the items you want to give away and a short description of what they are.
Like many things, Olio needs a critical mass of users to make the idea take-off so even if there is no-one in your area then still register and put up an item to see what happens. In my area, there was only myself a year ago but now there are plenty of people involved. There are also volunteers who are happy to be drop-off and pick-up points for people who work irregular hours.
Whilst the shame of supermarkets and restaurants throwing away perfectly good food is to blame for a great amount of food waste, and progressive nations such as France are now creating laws to outlaw this practice, like almost everything in life, it is not down to big business or government to make changes but rather for individuals like you and me.
Come on people, stop buying so much food. Stop wasting so much food. If I can go all year without throwing out a single bit of food waste, then there is absolutely no reason why anyone else can’t either. You might even save money by acting more responsibly.
Food waste is entirely the problem of rich people. If you are reading this on the internet in English, then the chances are that you live in an area that wastes food. It isn’t about other people or greedy corporations or selfish governments or corrupt banks. Rather than give money to charities or blaming impoverished people, take a stand and do something really difficult like changing your own behaviour… except it isn’t that difficult. What could be easier than buying, consuming and discarding less food?