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Photo: Vinícius Caricatte/Pexels.

New York City residents and businesses create 1.3 million tons of food waste annually — enough to fill the Empire State Building more than 32 times.

More than just being a waste, that food has a toxic effect on our environment releasing methane gas and increasing climate change. 

In an attempt to tackle the issue, new app Too Good To Go is giving New Yorkers an easy way to address  food waste.

Last month, Too Good To Go launched in New York City with the mission of inspiring households and restaurants to take action. The app connects conscious consumers with local food service businesses so they can pick up surplus food at the end of the day, preventing quality food from being wasted and thrown out onto the sidewalk.

The Too Good To Go App Launches in NYC To Help New Yorkers Fight 1.3 Million Tons of Annual Food Waste.
Credit: Too Good To Go

“I am really proud of how New Yorkers have embraced our concept,” East Coast Director Gaeleen Quinn said, adding although a survey done by Too Good To Go found NYC households wasted 8.4 pounds of food per week, 86% of residents wanted to reduce that number.

“When businesses don’t have tons of leftovers and you just have a few baguettes, that’s when we come in and help businesses actually save those meals. And of course the real heroes are the consumers.”

Once users are registered, Too Good to Go allows consumers to find their favorite local spots to pick up meals – everything from bagels to dim sum, for a third of the normal price. The system is a win-win where consumers receive a Too Good To Go Surprise Bag full of great food, and store owners no longer throw away surplus.

With nearly 200 NYC partners already signed on for launch, Surprise Bags are available from restaurants across the city, including Brooklyn’s Taqueria, Devocion, Brooklyn Cupcake, Bagel Point and more city favorites.

“We want to ensure that this is a tool that the community can use on a daily basis to save meals. We envision a planet without waste, but our everyday focus is to empower people to tackle food waste,” Quinn said. 

She said food waste did not have to be an overwhelming problem that people felt helpless about. “The reality is that reducing food waste is one of the best ways to help the environment.”

At the same time, education around the benefits of reducing food waste was lagging. In an effort to combat the education gap, the Too Good To Go team and their Food Waste Warriors were working hard to interact with consumers in a COVID-19 safe manner.

“We have Global Waste Warriors going into the street and talking to partners everyday. Not only do they get businesses on our platform, but they also create awareness around the issue of food waste,” Quinn said.

Quinn said recent surveys found that while 88% of New Yorkers were concerned about climate change, they didn’t recognize food waste as being a large contributor to global issues. 

New York continued to top charts in efforts to convert to renewable energy and recycling increases each year, but reducing food waste had remained a low priority with just 9% of people understanding the implications of throwing food out, she added.

The app launched in the midst of COVID-19 and although it has been hard to break ground and readjust to social distancing mandates, the silver lining had that community building was at an all time high, she said.

And Too Good To Go aims to make the most of that, bringing people together to improve the health of the environment and in turn our communities.

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Kimberlean Donis

Kimberlean Donis is a journalist based in Brooklyn. She is a student at Williams College majoring in Political Science and Art History.

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