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Byron Shire
September 17, 2021

Neighbourhoods tackling food waste with OLIO

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A new phone app is tackling the problem of food waste by connecting people with their neighbours, local shops, and cafes, to share leftover food in their community.

Leading a food revolution, OLIO is the world’s only neighbour-to-neighbour food sharing app. OLIO is co-founded and led by women and two-thirds of the app’s users are women.

Local woman Sian Lewis says she and her neighbours have been exchanging fresh produce from our gardens; pawpaws, bananas, citrus fruits, cobs of corn, baked goodies, herbs and so on. ‘For us, this is a satisfying reassertion of community and caring in response to our streetscape becoming dominated by excessive displays of materialism.

Health and Sustainability

In between homeschooling her children, Ms Lewis teaches Global Health at Monash University. ‘Last week’s focus was on Health and Sustainability and in preparing for my class I stumbled across an exciting Swedish phone App called ‘OLIO’. OLIO was one of the winners of the 2018 UN Climate Action Awards and was the world’s first neighbour-to-neighbour food sharing App.’

The App is free to use and accessible to anyone with an internet connection. It connects neighbours with each other so excess food items can be shared for free, rather than being thrown away.

Users with unwanted food take a photo and upload it to the App, while neighbours who live nearby receive an alert, request what they would like, and pop by to pick it up. In this way, OLIO helps to tackle the problem of food waste, which is the third-largest source of greenhouse gas emissions and one of the biggest environmental challenges of our era.’

Approximately half of the food comes from neighbours

Approximately half of the food on the app comes from neighbours sharing their spare food, and half comes from ‘Food Waste Heroes’ – volunteers who collect unsold food from local shops, take it home, add it to the app, and redistribute it to the community.

‘I believe that this initiative would be quite successful in the Byron Shire community,’ says Ms Lewis. ‘It accords with our values of community, generosity, waste reduction and caring for the environment. In a time of great ideological division within our community, it has the potential to reinvigorate these values and remind us all of our commonalities and connectedness.

‘Of course with the real threat of a highly infectious disease we would have to be very conscious of sanitation and contact-free delivery when sharing our food items, but again, creativity is at the heart of this community so I can imagine some innovative solutions to circumvent this risk of transmission.’

For more information, check out the app OLIO.



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