PORTLAND, Maine — In America, we have an abundance of almost everything, including food. But when that abundance of food doesn't reach the high standards we've set in place for it, or it simply isn't used, it moves quickly from a benefit to a bother.
In the United States, it is estimated that 40 percent of all food ends up in the trash. Americans threw away more than 19 million tons of food last year, according to the United Nations Environment Programme. That discarded is not just filling up landfills and wasting the energy it took to grow and make it: In fact, food waste contributes to 10 percent of greenhouse gas emissions.
The Too Good To Go app has been designed in an effort to make a dent in that problem. Businesses are partnering with the app so consumers can find perfectly good food from their favorite eateries to fill their pantries instead of landfills.
"Our mission is to be able to take that beautiful food and just put it in the hands of someone who can enjoy it," Claire Oliverson, head of marketing for the app, said.
Seventeen businesses in Greater Portland are part of the app, including Big Sky Bread Company, Browne Trading Market, Gross Bakery, Cheese Louise, Brickyard Hollow, Ruby's West End, Coffee Me Up, Copper Branch, and The Juicery.
Big Sky Bread Company has been donating their leftover loaves of bread to food pantries, but it's their smaller items like cookies, baguettes, and pastries that wind up in the trash if they do not sell by the end of the day.
"It is still very good and tasty," Big Sky manager Alex Depke said. "We just like our perfect-looking bread here."
Before they started partnering with Too Good To Go, the bread company threw away up to 10 baguettes and a dozen pastries a night. For the past three months, they've been offering "surprise bags," pre-filled with leftover baked goods and sold at a third of the normal price.
Around 5 p.m., the two daily surprise bags go up for sale on the app, and Depke said they are usually sold within 15 minutes, giving buyers a $12 value for only $4. The app takes a flat fee, Big Sky Bread Company gets the rest, and perfectly delicious food is spared the dumpster.
"It's been working out really well. Customers love it," Depke said.
According to Oliverson, the mentality of sustainability is strong in the Portland area. The app can grow in smaller communities, as well. If businesses want to use it, they can sign up through the app.
"Every little bit really makes a difference, and that is our goal: to save as many meals as we can," Oliverson said.