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OLIO – eliminating food waste and saving the planet

assorted vegetable lot

This week, we were fortunate enough to connect with Tessa Clarke, Co-founder and CEO of OLIO, a woman-owned company that is revolutionizing food sharing!

How does it work? 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. OLIO’s app allows communities to share food nearing its sell-by date in local stores, spare home-grown vegetables, or the groceries in your fridge when you go away. OLIO can also be used for non-food household items too!

OLIO believes that together we can build a more sustainable future where our most precious resources are shared, not thrown away. Let’s get to know Tessa!

Tell us a little bit about you, your background, and your current role:

My name is Tessa Clarke, and I am the Co-Founder & CEO of OLIO, a free app tackling the problem of waste in the home & local community by connecting neighbors with each other, and volunteers with local businesses, so that surplus food & other household items can be given away, not thrown away.

OLIO has grown to 5 million users in just over 5 years, and its impact has been widely recognised, most notably by the United Nations who highlighted OLIO as a “beacon” for the world, and by Vivatech who awarded OLIO “Next European Unicorn”. Prior to OLIO, Tessa had a 15 year corporate career as a digital Managing Director in the media, retail and financial services sectors, and she met her co-founder Saasha whilst they were studying for their MBAs at Stanford University. Tessa is passionate about the sharing economy as a solution for a sustainable world, and about ‘profit with purpose’ as the next business paradigm.

What is a fun fact about you?

I grew up on a farm and so have a pathological hatred of food waste, as I know how much hard work goes into producing food.

Why do you think climate change and sustainability is such an important topic today? 

Over a third of all the food produced globally is thrown away – with UK households alone binning over £14bn of edible food p.a., at a cost of over £700 to the average family. Food waste is also bad for the environment (it’s the third largest source of greenhouse gas emissions after the USA & China), bad for businesses and the Government (which spend over £1bn p.a. in disposal costs), and bad for society (there are 800m hungry people in the world, whilst 1m people in the UK visited a Food Bank last year). Our proprietary research, backed by a YouGov poll, has also shown that 1/3 of people are ‘physically pained’ throwing away good food, and yet they find themselves having to do this almost daily, with no better solution than the bin. OLIO seeks to address these problems by combining cutting-edge mobile technology with the power of the sharing economy and an engaged local community, to unlock the value of this food that would otherwise have been wasted.

What do you envision your industry looking like 10 years from now?

Our mission is to reduce food waste in the home – at scale – by leveraging the power of digital technology and local communities. We do this by connecting people to their neighbors, and volunteers to local businesses, so that surplus food and other household items can be given away, not thrown away. Our vision however is much larger than this – we want to completely reinvent how people consume by making it hyper-local and sustainable. Our most recent step towards this has been the launch of a new ‘Borrow’ section which connects neighbors to lend and borrow everyday household items.

What can the average person do to make a difference?

We believe that it was billions of small actions that caused the climate crisis in the first place, so by the same logic, billions of small actions can help get us out of it. By moving our money from unsustainable to sustainable products we’re voting with our wallets and sending data to companies which prompts them to take action and develop more sustainable products which can then become available for all.

Green.Org is a television show, podcast, social media, and news platform, hosted by Dylan Welch, that highlights climate change scientists, renewable energy experts, and clean tech entrepreneurs by giving them a voice in the mainstream media. The Green podcast highlights leading experts in cleantech, sustainability, media, finance, and real estate. Tune in and subscribe to the podcast on Apple or Spotify to listen to interviews with leading cleantech and sustainable experts. If you are interested in being featured on Green, click HERE.

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