At a time when the climate crisis is making headlines, the world’s population is greater than ever and Covid-19 is leading people to panic-buy, it has never been so important to think about how we can reduce food waste. A study conducted by Dr Makov of Ben-Gurion University and Dr Shepon of Harvard University has shown that peer-to-peer sharing apps can help reduce food waste and greenhouse gas emissions.

These apps let users post food items which they no longer want so other users can arrange to collect and use them. The food is given free of charge, with the view of helping households that are financially struggling to source food in an environmentally friendly way. Some volunteers also pick up excess food from local grocery shops or delis and post what they find on the app, ready to be collected.

Makov and Shepon’s  study analysed one of these apps: OLIO. Over a 19-month period, the team of researchers looked at 170,000 food offers on the app and found that around 60% were successfully collected with an estimated value of £720,000-£750,000. Not only did this help people in financially unstable situations, but it reduced the overall output of greenhouse gases. Depending on the nature of the exchange –  the mode of transport the receiver uses to collect the food; how many items they collect; and how this impacts their weekly shop – this system reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 87-156 tonnes over the 19-month period. That’s about the same weight as 15-26 African bush elephants!

In these uncertain times, community support is vital. This is one way you can help those in need feel more secure, while helping to reduce your impact on the climate crisis. What’s not to like?

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