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Environment: One Man’s Treasure

To coin a phrase, ‘one man’s trash is another man’s treasure’. Or perhaps an alternative – when put in the vegan context – ‘one man’s meat is another man’s poison’, would be a good fit for some of my most recent adventures.

Throughout this month, I have been aiming to live by this mantra and have looked for new and ingenious ways to give things away and find or save things which otherwise may have been tossed out. It seems I am not the only one who has taken on this way of life, and several apps have appeared to help us on our way to reducing and saving waste.

The best app I’ve found for giving anything away you don’t want and discovering treasure yourself is OLIO. Well-named, its dictionary definition is ‘a miscellaneous collection of things’. You may not have used this app, but if you have noticed an increase of bags left outside your apartment building, only to be quickly scuttled away by a grateful soul, then your neighbour certainly has.

OLIO is a tool for reducing waste; the app has separate sections for both food waste and non-edible items you can source for free, as well as a locally-made section full of craft and baked goods to buy. If you download the app now, you will find such delights as clothing, books, shoes and toys, all listed by the distance from your house. Much of the food is collected by its ‘Food Waste Heroes’ from local supermarkets and shops. This food would have been thrown away, but is now spread throughout the community. You can do your bit for the environment by saving some salad and even becoming a hero yourself.

So far, I have cleaned out my wardrobe, given away piles of books I wouldn’t read again, collected a whole freezer load of sourdough and all the boxes I needed for a big move. It also came in handy when my food delivery accidentally gave me some food with dairy in it; I put it on OLIO and it was collected within an hour.

My subsequent discovery is an app I hope becomes even more popular. Too Good To Go is used by shops and restaurants to reduce their food waste but still cover the cost of the food itself. Usually priced are around the £4 mark but worth around £12, restaurants often list items as ‘surprise bags’, and you collect a mystery meal or bag of groceries. Unfortunately, there are fewer vegan options on there than I would like, so the possibilities are limited, and places with vegan options don’t tend to separate them from non-vegan food. So far, I have only rescued a few boxes of vegetables. Hopefully more vegan businesses will join the movement in the future, as it’s such a great initiative.

For those who have things you’d ideally like to sell, there are some new apps to help with this too. We Buy Books and Zifed are two which have sprung up for the books that you no longer want or need. If you give them a go, I’d love to hear how you got on. For piles of clothes you’ve barely worn, then Vinted might be a perfect solution. On here, you can list and buy second-hand clothing. It’s a great way to find out-of-season clothes, save money and reduce your waste by not contributing to fast fashion. I’ve not had much success with listing anything, but in fairness, most of what I was listing were ‘going out’ clothes, which haven’t been anyone’s priority of late!

It’s been a great experience sharing and discovering these apps with the other people using them. Knowing that I’m helping the enviromnent and my community, as well as saving money, is a great perk. According to the OLIO app’s analytics, I’ve shared with 31 people, saved five meals and over 800 litres of water, and made at least £30 in cold hard cash. I like to think that I’ve also created countless smiles.

If you try it, make sure to leave out the right bag. I had one OLIOer accidentally collect my rubbish – luckily she realised whilst she was still at my building!


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