New Phone App Gives New Life to Leftovers

Leftovers_pizza_Rick_Audet_San_Francisco_sharingThose who have enjoyed our series on the Sharing Economy will be pleased to know that the concept as a business model is far from dead. In fact, according to one source in San Francisco, the question of how to share with others what you value most (or perhaps you didn’t) is about to take a whole new turn, thanks to an unusual new phone app.

The LeftoverSwap app, designed by Seattle entrepreneur Dan Newman, allows you to get rid of the rest of that great meal you just made but can’t finish, and feel good about it.

Newman, who says he developed the business concept one night after a pizza gorging with friends that yielded way too much surplus for the fridge, has billed the concept as a way to decrease waste.

To make his case, he offers the following stats:

  • 40 percent of the food we produce goes to waste.
  • 25 percent of us don’t know our neighbors’ names.
  • 70 percent of us are overweight.
  • 16 percent of Americans lack enough food.
  • 99 percent of us don’t need a second helping of the beef lo mein.

The outcome, argues Newman, is a burgeoning problem for the planet, which is being over-harvested and improperly utilized. Thinking of our neighbor next door (or on the other side of the city) is one way of helping to tackle that over indulgence.

And, our wallets won’t complain.

Leftovers_San_Francisco_Sharing_AnnaIt’s evident that Newman has thought a lot about this concept, which he promotes as a “cheap, local and community oriented meal” system that helps unite neighbors against a common conundrum: The Appetite.

“You’re stuffed. You can’t take another bite, but there’s so much left on your plate,” says Newman. “Snap a picture of what you can’t eat, name it, and share the rest of your meal. Your neighbors are hungry … Share a bite.”

And for the naysayer who isn’t sure about the possible benefits of eating someone else’s leftovers, he offers a colorful graph showing how purchasing that doggie bag of leftovers can help the environment (and the spotted owl population to boot).

“Through increasing the efficiency of each plot of land dedicated to food production, we can reduce our intensive use of natural resources, and reduce our expansion into sensitive environmental areas.”

I can’t quite put my finger on it, but something tells me that there’s more to Newman’s intent here than spreading leftover goodness. Of course, there’s all kinds of unanswered questions that didn’t seem to go with other food-sharing programs, like how hygienic safeguards would be put in place, how the sharer and sharee ensure pranks are left out of the equation … questions that food-sharing programs like Mealku in New York and Munchery in the Bay Area seemed to have ironed out.

But then, Leftover Swap is still in beta, so there’s plenty of time for delving into those curious questions and for working out the kinks.

And for those who want to explore leftover options, you can follow @LeftoverSwap and his growing twitter base at #leftoversrule.   His latest tweet gives food for thought:

“Don’t feel threatened, but we do hear Tom’s Filet Mignon Pot Pie tastes better the next day.”

Photo of pizza courtesy of Rick Audet.

Photo of turkey dinner leftovers by Anna.

Jan Lee

Jan Lee is a former news editor and award-winning editorial writer whose non-fiction and fiction have been published in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, the U.K. and Australia. Her articles and posts can be found on TriplePundit, JustMeans, and her blog, The Multicultural Jew, as well as other publications. She currently splits her residence between the city of Vancouver, British Columbia and the rural farmlands of Idaho.

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