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This app reduces how much food gets thrown away at grocery stores. How does it work?

We waste 1.3 billion tons of food worldwide each year (yikes!). The No Food Wasted app could help us fix that.

This app reduces how much food gets thrown away at grocery stores. How does it work?

One-third of the food produced worldwide (that's almost 1.3 billion tons) is wasted every year.

In the U.S., the United Nations Environment Programme estimates that each person wastes more than 20 pounds of food per month, which is 30-40% of our food supply. Yikes.

And, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, the family breakdown looks bad, too: an average family of four leaves more than 2 million calories (nearly $1,500 worth of food) uneaten each year. Double yikes.


A member of the Argentinian "freegan" movement rummages through a garbage container for food in 2012. The freegans collect the food discarded by supermarkets and restaurants, among other strategies to find free food. Photo via Alejandro Pagni/AFP/Getty Images.

Solving this massive food waste problem could help us feed 795 million undernourished people on our planet.

Plus, reducing the amount of food waste could put a dent in climate change (rotting food releases methane, a greenhouse gas more potent than carbon dioxide). Recently, the U.S. government announced that it's setting a goal to cut food waste in half by 2030. That's a big goal.

Here's one incredibly cool solution that could help get us there: a mobile app from a Dutch entrepreneur that helps supermarkets cut food waste.

It could also save you quite a bit of money in the process.

This photo was provided by No Food Wasted and translated into English (right now, it's only available in Dutch).

How does it work? Based on your location, the No Food Wasted app shows discounts available in your area on food that's about to expire. Need bananas? Head to grocery store #1 for discounted bananas that might go into the trash 24 hours later. Looking for a loaf of bread? Grocery store #10 has 20 loaves that are reaching the end of their lives very soon.

“We've created a concrete solution for people to do something ... they don't have to pay more money, go to different grocery stores, or eat less food," said August de Vocht, the creator of the No Food Wasted app, which he developed at his mobile media company, Gemoro.

In a pilot study, the No Food Wasted app cut food waste in supermarkets up to 18%.

That's huge. From September 2014 to May 2015, the pilot study followed 22 stores from five supermarket chains in southern Netherlands. Those supermarkets cut their food waste pretty significantly by using this app, which is currently available only in Dutch.

While Dutch supermarkets throw away 10,000 euros' (over $11,000) worth of food a month, the markets that have used the app have saved up to 1,800 euros a month, de Vocht told Upworthy.

How did they make this big of a difference? De Vocht says the key was giving customers financial incentives for food that's nearing the end of its shelf life.

The app is simple to use, which makes it even more of a win.

Users log in via their Facebook, Twitter, or email accounts, or even anonymously. Grocery stores use an administrator's version of the app to scan a product into the app's database, along with the discount, number of units available, and “best before" date.

Users can check out a list of stores nearby, or they can click on one supermarket to see a list of all of its offerings at the moment.

This is what the app's interface would look like if you used it in your neighborhood. This photo was provided by No Food Wasted and translated into English.

And while supermarkets pay a monthly fee to use the app (which helps them get rid of food that's going bad and make more money at the same time), shoppers can download the app for free.

“One thing we learned is that people are triggered mostly by money and not by the environment," de Vocht said.

“When we asked about what discount was needed to sell the product, 35% was the magic number."

The future looks good for the app, too. Since smartphones and supermarkets abound, de Vocht sees this as a solution that can be replicated around the world.

There are, of course, limitations: The app isn't perfectly configured to update the number of units available in real time once discounted items sell. The No Food Wasted team is working on fixing that issue. They're also focused on raising investor money so they can roll out the app at grocery stores throughout the rest of the Netherlands, and then throughout the European Union.

Here's hoping that you'll be able to use the No Food Wasted at a supermarket near you soon!

Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels
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Increasingly customers are looking for more conscious shopping options. According to a Nielsen survey in 2018, nearly half (48%) of U.S. consumers say they would definitely or probably change their consumption habits to reduce their impact on the environment.

But while many consumers are interested in spending their money on products that are more sustainable, few actually follow through. An article in the 2019 issue of Harvard Business Review revealed that 65% of consumers said they want to buy purpose-driven brands that advocate sustainability, but only about 26% actually do so. It's unclear where this intention gap comes from, but thankfully it's getting more convenient to shop sustainably from many of the retailers you already support.

Amazon recently introduced Climate Pledge Friendly, "a new program to help make it easy for customers to discover and shop for more sustainable products." When you're browsing Amazon, a Climate Pledge Friendly label will appear on more than 45,000 products to signify they have one or more different sustainability certifications which "help preserve the natural world, reducing the carbon footprint of shipments to customers," according to the online retailer.

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In order to distinguish more sustainable products, the program partnered with a wide range of external certifications, including governmental agencies, non-profits, and independent laboratories, all of which have a focus on preserving the natural world.

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Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.