I hear many people argue that we need a new style of economy to replace our current sell-buy-use-discard economy (for example, see “The Story of Stuff“). There is talk of circular and sharing economies. Recently, I was pleased to find a sharing app called “Olio” that allows people to connect and share left over foods and non-food items. It seems to work well.
My first tests of Olio
I thought I’d test out Olio as I had some coffee beans and some soft-drinks that I didn’t need. Seven items in total. So I took photos and posted them in the Olio app. I don’t live in the centre of London and am a bit out of the way, but all items we snapped up by somebody nearby within 24 hours. That was a good result.
Somebody who wants the items sends me a message through the app. They say when they can come by to pick them up and it’s at this point that I give them my precise address. It’s great to see happy people arriving to pick up items that they’ll really use.
After this success, I tried some “non-food” items. I put a selection of excess dinner plates of ours on the Olio app and they did get taken by someone even though is took two or three weeks before that happened. Again, it’s nice to know someone is happily making use of these items that we no longer needed.
More about Olio
Here’s what Olio says about itself on the “What is Olio?” page on their website;
OLIO connects neighbours with each other and with local businesses so surplus food can be shared, not thrown away. This could be food nearing its sell-by date in local stores, spare home-grown vegetables, bread from your baker, or the groceries in your fridge when you go away. For your convenience, OLIO can also be used for non-food household items too.
OLIO is super easy! To make an item available, simply open the app, add a photo, description, and when and where the item is available for pick-up.
To access items, simply browse the listings available near you, request whatever takes your fancy and arrange a pick-up via private messaging.
Here at OLIO we believe that small actions can lead to big change. Collectively – one rescued cupcake, carrot or bottle of lotion at a time – we can build a more sustainable future where our most precious resources are shared, not thrown away. Join today!https://olioex.com/about/
Olio was started by by two women, Tessa and Saasha, a few years ago. You can read about their stories leading up to the start of Olio on their “Our Story” page. They are two people who haven’t done anything like this before and honestly seem like they just want to do something good for the world. In a few years, their app has grown in use to over 2.6 million people in 54 different countries.
Protecting Natural Capital
Of course, consumers sharing excess items is not of interest of the big companies selling them in the first place (see Business vs Exploitation). It’s a pity that, in general, throwing usable items into land fill and buying more new ones will improve the financial results of big companies. That’s the truth but it shouldn’t be so. We need to consider natural capital just as importantly as financial capital, and the Olio app is a step in that direction. The more we can share our excess items, the less we demand from nature to make new ones, and the less waste we create that, eventually, nature has to deal with somehow.