App review: Too good to go

Too good to go is an app, which helps fight food waste by offering leftover food from stores and restaurants nearby at a reduced price. I discovered the app in December last year and I have ordered from a lot of places in Rotterdam already.

How to use the Too good to go app

When you open the app, you will see the tab "Find Food" first. It shows the nearest places with leftover food, the pick-up times, the number of leftover orders, and the price of the food. If there are too many finds, you can search for store name or type the name of the city in the top white bar or use the filter (the triangular shape on the right of the white bar). After clicking on the place that you are interested in that still have leftovers that you can buy, you will see the company's page with a white button on the top right with a green supermarket basket logo inside. When there is nothing left, you won't be able to see or press that button. After selecting the quantity that you want and pressing on the green "Buy" button on the bottom, and paying with credit card, PayPal, or iDeal in the pop-up Internet page, you will receive the digital receipt in the app.

The tab "Map" shows you the nearby places on Google maps that have joined Too good to go in colored dots, green (they have something), yellow (few left), and red (nothing left). You can press on the dots for more information. This is especially useful, when you are on vacation in a country that Too good to go is active in and you don't know the area well. You can use the app in the Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Norway, Spain, Switzerland, and United Kingdom.

The tab "Favourites" can be used to store your favorite places, so that you can see if they have any leftovers with just one click.

The tab "Receipts" is where your purchases are stored. When you click on the white bar with the name of the place that you are picking something up from, you will see the receipt with the amount ordered, the pick-up date and pick-up time range, the time remaining until pick-up, and a bar at the bottom that the employee will swipe to confirm that you have picked up your order.

After purchasing something that you can't pick up on time after all, you can cancel it yourself up to three hours before pick-up time. You need to open the receipt in the app and press on the cancel button in small letters (very fine print) at the bottom. That way, you will get your money back and someone else still get the chance to buy it. I have also experienced once that there were no leftovers and the shop employee cancelled the order on their electronic device. Although it was canceled during pick-up time, I still got my money back without problems.

What do I think?

The Too good to go app intends to create a win-win-win situation. The store owner wins, as they get money for food that would have otherwise been thrown away and more people can get to know their store and their food at a lower risk. The customer wins, as they get food at a lower price than normal, but they do have to deal with the possibility of getting something they don't like or food that isn't very fresh anymore, places that gets sold out very fast, and inconvenient pick-up times (early in the morning, during work hours, and late at night/past dinner time). The environment also wins, as perfectly good food that took a lot of resources to produce have not gone to waste and they didn't get thrown on top of the garbage mountain. 

In theory, this is a great idea, but in practice, it is a bit difficult to make everyone happy. The store owner cannot give away all his leftovers and the food that is still very good, as customers can get so much that they won't come back for a while, decide to only buy things from the Too good to go app from now on, or get angry for never been able to buy the leftovers in the Too good to go app or for paying full price for something others got at a discounted price, when they are at the store at around the same time. That's why they need to make sure that the leftovers have a slightly lower quality than their normal products, but not to the extent that it is so bad that it cannot be eaten anymore, and that it is only enough for one or two meals that should be eaten on the pick-up day itself or as breakfast the next morning. This is not that easy, as sometimes, there are no leftovers. It is not that nice to cancel the order, when someone is already on the way or have taken a lot of time and effort to reach the store. Something similar happened, when I was picking up my order at Starbucks. The employee counted three people in the store, who came for the Too good to go orders, but she didn't expect that I actually ordered two. She had divided the leftovers in three portions and one person already left. I considered giving up one portion for the third person who came in later, but I intended to share it with people as a midnight snacking session/pre-birthday-high-tea-but-at-night, and one portion wouldn't be enough for us. Luckily, the employee brought up a solution on her own, as I would have felt bad about it. She gave the guy a beverage of choice and a slice of carrot cake that she accidentally ripped a bit, while she prepared the leftover packages, and a full refund in the Too good to go app. He was happy to accept the offer. 

Too good to go orders do give extra work for the employees, as some don't know how many people are going to come pick the leftovers up and they need to assemble packages near closing time, when they already need to do a lot to close up shop and want to go home in time. But I did notice that some employees seem to be happy that the food is not thrown away, that they see new faces in the store, and that people can sample their good products, expecting that they will be convinced and return to pay full price for them in the future. I also like how some stores and restaurants do something creative with their leftovers, like making salads, yogurt fruit cups, and poke bowls from their bits and bobs. When there aren't enough leftovers, it can be a nice way to still provide people a filling meal by adding not so expensive ingredients, such as rice, lettuce, eggs, bread, and wraps. 

Environmental wise, it can still get better, as even though, they tell you to bring things like your own bags and boxes. I have often received paper bags with everything wrapped and ready to go. They never asked if I had bags or boxes to put food in and only sometimes, did I have the chance to take out my own canvas bag to put the wrapped food in. I think it is difficult, because you sometimes decide to order something very last minute, a few hours before pick-up time, and have nothing on you. You also don't know what you will get, so you don't know the amount of boxes or what size of boxes you need. It also saves the employees time, if they can already set aside and package some leftovers beforehand. 

Overall, I like how I got to try and discover new things that I might have never bought or ordered myself. You become creative with cooking with the ingredients that you received and less picky about food. I also discovered some shops that I have never been before nor did I know of their existence. There were some instances that I got very hard bread and food that were close on the border of being inedible, but mostly, it was only one or two items, while the rest were great. I have also stopped looking at the expected value and just consider if the food is worth the price I paid for it. That way, there won't be as much disappointment.

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