If you’ve ever visited a restaurant and wondered how much of the food actually gets eaten, you’re not alone.
Researcher, David Blum, at Walden University Minneapolis Minnesota sought to answer that exact question—and what he found was staggering.
According to Blum’s paper, Ways to Reduce Restaurant Industry Food Waste Costs, 4–10% of food purchased by restaurants never makes it to the consumer’s table at all. Of the food served, approximately 31–40% remains unconsumed.
Food waste manifests itself in a variety of forms within the restaurant industry: oversized portions, extensive menu choices, improper ingredient storage, and over-preparation, just to name a few.
For each meal purchased at a restaurant, research suggests that a half pound of food is wasted.
And this isn’t just bad for the environment—it’s bad for profit margins, too. This significant level of food waste accounts for a $162 billion loss of profits for restaurants across the United States yearly.
Luckily, innovators like Danish entrepreneur, Mette Lykke, are seeking to turn those tables around. Read on to learn how to do your part in preventing food waste (and saving money!) thanks to Lykke’s free and easy-to-use app.
The Food Waste Reduction App You Need In Your Life
First created in 2016, Too Good To Go offers a simple solution to a modern-day dilemma: connecting restaurants with consumers to sell surplus food.
The concept is straightforward yet ingenious: Consumers download the app to peruse a list of restaurants offering “magic bags,” which contain around one kilogram of unsold food items at the end of the day. Restaurants place any unsold items that would otherwise be thrown out in the bag to sell to consumers at a heavily discounted price, while consumers arrive at the requested time to pick up the bag of goodies. Restaurants reduce waste and gain profit, and consumers get delicious food at an incredible bargain—the ultimate win-win situation.
The History of Too Good To Go
Too Good To Go saved its first meal Copenhagen, Denmark, under the leadership of start-up CEO, Mette Lykke.
If you’ve never heard of Lykke herself, then you’ve likely heard of her fitness app Endomondo, which gained enough interest to later on be acquired by USA company, Under Armour. Lykke took interest in the app when a friend showed her the app nine months after launching.
When interviewed by CNBC, Lykke stated, “I thought it was such a cool concept. I got invited to invest and was asked to help the founders run the business.”
Since then, Too Good To Go has gone global—with representation in 17 countries such as the United State, France, the UK, Germany, Spain, the Netherlands, and more. According to the Too Good to Go website, this simple little app saves, on average, 250,000 meals every single day.
And with 11 million active users and 22,000 participating stores, it shows no sign of stopping anytime soon.
How To Use The App
If you’re wondering how affordable Too Good To Go is, the answer may astonish you. Most meals range from $3.99 to $5.99— nearly half the price you’d pay at a store (without the need to tip!).
On the “Me” page, Too Good To Go tracks the number of surprise bags, CO2e, and money saved through using the app by calculating the food’s original value versus what you made. And, unlike Doordash and Uber Eats, there are no hidden fees involved.
For consumers with allergies or dietary preferences, Too Good To Go contains filters to find the food and stores that are right for you. Filters include vegan, vegetarian as well as the time of day you’re able to pick the food up. Users can star favorite restaurants and rate/recommend food for other users.
Other Ways to Fight Restaurant Food Waste
Interested in other ways to fight food waste in the restaurant industry? Follow these tips for a sustainable night out on the town:
- Be realistic about what you order: Consider sharing a plate if you know it’s a restaurant that serves large plates or opt for an appetizer instead.
- Bring Tupperware to go: Rather than using restaurant-provided to-go containers – which can range from plastic tupperware to styrofoam containers, bring your own reusable tupperware instead. Ask the restaurant for permission first, but bringing tupperware can save another piece of plastic or styrofoam from winding up in a landfill.
- Opt for vegan/vegetarian meals: Ultimately, menus are based on the wants and needs of the consumer. Show your support for more vegan/vegetarian options by ordering meat-free meals instead.
Food waste is a major problem of our generation, but it’s not impossible to fix.
Each and everyone of us can work to end (or minimize) food waste through our consumer actions and behavior. Save money and the planet with Too Good To Go, and enjoy a meal out without guilt!
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Photo: Markus Spiske via Unsplash