It is closing hour. The waitress looks outside the window at the enormous collection of trashcans, filled with untouched food. Another waiter bustles into the back room, with a half-eaten plate in hand. The waitress watches as he sprays down the remaining food with water.
According to the United Nations Environment Programme, Americans waste more than 20 pounds of food each month, resulting in about 90 billion pounds of wasted food each year.
“People here in the U.S. are very privileged because we have too much food at our disposal. I’m not asking anybody to starve themselves, but people should save the food that they don’t consume,” Sophomore Jwala Mitra said.
The British app “Too Good to Go,” founded by Jamie Crummie and Chris Wilson, has the solution to such problems. According to Independent News, British restaurants annually waste about 600,000 tons of edible food. The app sells untouched food from nationally ranked restaurants for as little as £2 ($2.23), far cheaper than if the food was purchased directly from the restaurant. Thus, consumers can save quality food from being wasted while purchasing them at a fraction of the cost.
By using biodegradable sugar cane boxes, the app also reduces carbon emissions. Too Good to Go has expanded from the United Kingdom to Austria, Denmark, France, Germany, Norway and Switzerland. It has already saved 3,070 meals and prevented over 200 tons of carbon dioxide emissions in the process.
However, the idea of consuming leftovers is not widely accepted all over the world. Leftovers are often associated with garbage, making people less likely to eat them. In the article “An Economic History of Leftovers” by Helen Veit, Americans associate leftovers with desperation and poverty. Thus, consumers choose to avoid eating leftovers. However, the app aims to eliminate this negative stigma surrounding leftovers, and seems to have been successful in doing so in Europe. Crummie stated to Business Green News that Europeans have had a change of heart, and now look to leftovers as meals rather than waste. The app could have a similar effect on Americans if it is introduced in the United States.
“Honestly, I do not think I would be as comfortable eating leftovers even if they are clean. I would rather spend extra money to get myself food I can trust from a reliable source,” Sophomore Jessica Jang said.
However,restaurants are not the only businesses guilty of wasting food. Grocery stores in America throw out fruits and vegetables that look unappetizing, such as oddly-shaped tomatoes. Sellers also discard food after the sell-by date indicated on the produce even though the time stamp is merely a guideline to estimate how long the food will be in peak condition. According to Business Insider Retail, most foods are still edible after the sell-by date, and discarding such foods results in approximately ten percent of the nation’s annual food wastage.
“The app should also try to sell unsold produce. Most markets have to clear out fruits and vegetables by a certain date, even if the produce is still edible,” Sophomore Hannah Lee said.
Too Good to Go has substantially decreased the amount of food waste in Europe and hopes to globally expand its influence. The company is strongly dedicated to erasing the stigma associated with leftovers. It has sparked a change of perspective, teaching people to embrace foods that may have otherwise been tossed away.
This evolving mindset could travel from the coffee table, to the grocery store and to other restaurants. Grocers may reconsider their stingency on expiration dates and remove the shoppers’ fear of the day-old milk, bruised fruits and vegetables and other produce that appears unappetizing but is otherwise viable.
Ultimately, “Too Good to Go” could spark a revolution to find the penicillin to the food-waste epidemic.