Innovation

Food redistribution app OLIO expands to household products as 'Brexit Boom' boosts secondhand market

OLIO, an app first launched to allow the redistribution of unwanted food products within communities, has expanded its service to offer users the opportunity to share unwanted household items, such as toiletries, cosmetics and cleaning products.

Following research carried out by OLIO that revealed that one in five Brits indicated they will be more likely to buy second hand goods following the UK’s vote to leave the European Union (EU), the app has expanded to enable users to buy, sell and donate household items as well as food items.

The research implies that Brits will be more cautious in the way they spend their money following the decision for Brexit and that 58 per cent of respondents had purchased a second-hand item in the last month. This research coincides with the decision to make OLIO more than just a food redistribution app.

‘Magic’ of community and saving resources

The founders of the app, Tessa Cook and Saasha Celestial-One, believe the app will allow users to not only save money and reduce waste, but also ‘experience the magic of rescuing something of value and interacting with a neighbour’.

Food redistribution app OLIO expands to household products as 'Brexit Boom' boosts secondhand marketThe app works the same for all food and household items: users upload a photo of the item to the app and neighbours and other users nearby can receive customised alerts for newly listed items. They then request the item they would like and arrange to collect it from a home, OLIO Drop Box, or another agreed location over private messaging.

Cook said: “The amount of food we throw away is absolutely shocking, but it’s only part of the unnecessary waste we create. Who doesn’t have drawers full of toiletries, kitchen equipment and unwanted gifts that are gathering dust when they could be gladly used by a neighbour?

“When it comes to spring cleaning or de-cluttering, OLIO provides a much better option than simply chucking things in the bin, where they’ll just end up in landfill. With a few taps of the app, anyone can either give these items to others in their local community, or they can request a donation to charity, or even sell them.”

Success in food redistribution

The OLIO app, launched in January, has been used more than 300,000 times and has prevented 100,000 food items from going to landfill in the last eight months.

Food redistribution app OLIO expands to household products as 'Brexit Boom' boosts secondhand market
OLIO was created by Tessa Cook and Saasha Celestial-One
The founders of the app say they were inspired to not only help reduce the £12.5 billion of food thrown away by UK households every year, but also to create more connected communities. A YouGov poll carried out by the company found that 86 per cent of the 1,610 adults asked said they were ‘bothered’ by throwing away their edible food, with two-thirds saying that it is the households that are most responsible for the problem.

The app has been used to redistribute excess home-grown vegetables, food nearing its sell-by date in local shops, and groceries that will be uneaten as families head off on holiday or move house.

OLIO was also chosen by Sainsbury’s as one of the first retail technology start-ups the supermarket partnered with during their £1-million ‘Waste Less, Save More’ campaign in Swadlincote, Derbyshire this year. More than 100 users signed up within one month of the launch of the app in the town, with residents exchanging items including jams, chutneys, mung beans, cereal and sauces.

The app's success since its launch at the beginning of the year has seen it expand to 38 countries, including the whole of the EU, USA, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand.

More information about OLIO can be found on the app’s website.

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