This App Is Just What You Need to Fight Food Waste

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Businesses can list surplus food and customers buy it at a discount.

It is estimated that one-third of food produced for human consumption goes to waste. This translates to 1.6 billion tons going to landfill – 51 tons per second, if you want to put it into sharp perspective – most of which could have nourished hungry bodies, had it been better managed.

Much of the waste takes place on the consumer end of things, thanks in part to poor marketing, incorrect storage, confusing expiry dates, and bad shopping habits. Another issue is overflowing store shelves and displays, which shoppers in high-income countries have come to view as common practice, despite the fact that not everything displayed gets sold.

Thanks to smartphone technology, there are some ways in which this food waste is being reduced. A few apps have been developed that connect shoppers to businesses with surplus food that are willing to sell it at a discount in order to avoid throwing it out. One well-known app is Too Good To Go, available in 12 countries across Europe; its website boasts that it has diverted 18 million meals from landfill since its founding in 2015.

Now another new (and free!) app called YourLocal has made its way across the ocean to New York (although it also operates in Copenhagen). YourLocal is based on the same idea of connecting businesses and people to divert perfectly good food from the trash and feed hungry bellies with up to a 70 percent discount. It has the added benefit of attracting new customers to a business they may not have known about otherwise.

The project started when friends concerned about food waste sent out a group text about some surplus fish available at a local fishmonger's shop. A long line quickly formed outside the building, "delighting the retailer with a final chance to profit on a highly perishable product that seemed destined for the garbage." YourLocal grew from there.

Food Tank cited YourLocal in a recent article:

"'Wasting food is a crazy problem. You spend resources growing, producing, packaging, transporting, cooling the food — to then spend even more resources throwing it out, transporting it again, and composting it.' YourLocal therefore reframes potential 'food waste' to 'food surplus,' telling Food Tank they strive to highlight the 'massive drain on our resources and effects [on] our environment and our wallets daily.'"

It's a brilliant idea that benefits everyone involved, from business owner to client to the environment. Hopefully YourLocal will spread throughout North America, as it's desperately needed in every town and city.