App for good: Too Good To Go

Breaking big problems into bite size portions seems to be a good strategy in addressing the societal and environmental challenges of today.


If each one of us committed to a little action, it would have been a viable solution to many big threats society is facing today. It could be applied to recycling, using less water, switching off the lights, not buying unethical products and so on. It makes perfect sense. Economy at scale at its best just like Adam Smith explained.


Now, for some reasons it doesn’t happen. Behaviour change is the hardest bit to break.


As Stephen Kinnock, Labour MP pointed out at the recent Crowd Forum discussion: “there is a difference between THE economy and MY economy”. If something doesn’t improve MY economy, sadly it wouldn’t matter that much. Whilst we all seem to care about the climate change and other environmental threats, on a daily basis consumers remain largely unengaged in making sustainable choices if these choices don’t benefit THEIR economy directly.


Having clear monetary benefits that affect MY economy married with empowering consumers to solve food waste problems could probably explain the success of Too Good To Go app (TGTG).


What does it do?


Too Good To Go sees itself as a social enterprise that works hard to reduce food waste in urban areas. The app offers users an opportunity to order meals from the local restaurants and cafes and collect them an hour before closing time. The price for a meal varies between £2 to £3.80.


It benefits the consumers as it offers an opportunity to get a meal at a much cheaper rate, whilst it helps the restaurants to reduce their food waste and get paid for it.


Is there a problem?


Yes, there is.


Two polar problems define our global food system - hunger and food waste. More than nine billion people will need to be fed by 2050 in a climate that we know a little about.


The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) estimated that 25 percent of the global food calories and almost 50 percent of total food weight are lost or wasted before they can be consumed. Most of such waste in the developed nations occurs in restaurants, households and supermarkets.


In addition, food loss contributes to 6 to 10 percent of greenhouse gas emissions.


Tackling food waste is deemed to be one of the most effective ways to balance out the broken food system in rich countries.


Why TGTG is an app for good?


Within the first six months of TGTG operation – according to the start-up estimations – they prevented “approximately over 200 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions and provided thousands of meals that would have otherwise been discarded to those in need”.


As a cherry on the top, you’d enjoy discovering that it also uses environmentally friendly sugarcane take away boxes. There is also an opportunity to donate a meal by using food redistribution scheme in the app, which suggests “donations of £1 to be put towards providing a hot meal to those who need it most”.


My two colleagues are enjoying the TGTG meals a lot. What I also noticed is that at least in London, they work primarily with small, non-chain cafes and restaurants. Are they contributing to local food entrepreneurship and empowering SMEs (Small and Medium size Enterprises) by taking away the food waste burden from the owners? It seems so.   


Elina Yumasheva is head of content at The Crowd. 


Photograph: Flickr/ USDA.

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