Too Good To Go is like the Revolut of 2023. You’d never heard of it and suddenly you and everyone else can’t stop talking about it. Recommending it to your mates, your ma, and strangers at the bar. It’s almost a right of passage to make a Too Good To Go unboxing video on TikTok at this stage. So far in Ireland, there have been over 420,000 downloads of the app since it was introduced here in 2021.
A lot of solutions to address climate change are fundamentally flawed. They require people to have the time, money and wherewithal to change huge aspects of their lives. They’re also, kinda dull. Too Good To Go however manages to combat food-waste while also being good craic to engage with.
The concept is simple. Restaurants, shops, bakeries, butchers, newsagents, and supermarkets bin huge amounts of food every day. Rather than let it go to landfill, Too Good To Go helps businesses sell it at a heavily reduced price. Registration to the app is free and users can pick up a ‘Surprise Bag’ for a fraction of the original retail cost. Like yellow stickers for the online generation. And just like yellow stickers, the savings are legit and give you that warm ‘I just got a great deal’ glow.
We are living in an era where food has never felt more expensive. A lot of the tried and tested ways to save money on food shops have been systematically eradicated. Or like getting to the shop in time for the good yellow sticker deals, don’t fit in with modern online life. Too Good To Go is one of the few money savers that doesn’t feel like a ‘duh obviously’ or a scam.
Too Good To Go is like a bulletin board of wins. Businesses sign themselves up and then customers can spend as much or as little time as they want going through them. Sometimes this is part of the fun, seeing what the best bag is. Checking where is your nearest local participating retailer. You can add places you like to your favourites so you can easily find them and check if there are Surprise Bags available. It’s fun in the same way scrolling through Depop is.
Too Good To Go is guaranteed good value. You might be competing with early birds for the most popular Surprise Bags (I’m looking at you whoever always beats me to the James Whelan Butchers Surprise Bag at 06:30 in the morning) but usually, you’ll find something available near you. Unlike the yellow sticker life where you had to do a drive-by in the hope that there was something left on special by the time you got there.
And usually in the Surprise Bags, you get a high-quality feed. The Surprise Bags are generally full of high-end food. So it has become a thing for users to post videos of their hauls on TikTok. There’s also a Reddit community of over 10,000 people sharing photos of their Surprise Bags.
The element of surprise adds excitement to the experience and to the videos. People get the same thrill as when you play the lotto or get a scratch card. You literally never know what you are going to get. A user could go to the same place every day for a week and never get the same thing twice. It’s like adult trick-or-treating, with all the unchanged unadulterated joy.
This has earned the app its fans but also its next-level stans. For them, it’s more of a lifestyle. For some content creators sharing what they got in their seemingly daily Too Good To Go Surprise Bag is part of their life. It’s also becoming part of the food culture. I read about groups of students doing Too Good To Go parties where everyone brings a bag and they share their spoils.
Like all things food and drink-related, Too Good To Go is sharable. People bond over it like they do any shared interest. In our office we have more than one devout Too Good To Go-er and even before this partnership was conceived we regularly talked about our Too Good To Go hauls on the regular. Dray, a part-time writer and student uses the app most. In his life, it has almost replaced ‘the big shop’ because as a young person on the go with no car, the conventional big shop just doesn’t fit into his life. So as the connoisseur in the building, we’re all always asking him what’s the best Too Good To Go he got that week. He maintains that Umi never misses. I’m a solid fan of the Aldi surprise bag. Other office favourites include Golden Brown, Toonsbridge Dairy, Boojum & Rainbow Chinese.
The app gives you kudos every time you buy something. It even tallies the metrics on how your Surprise Bag has helped the earth. It keeps a running tally of how much CO2e each individual user has saved from landfills. If Spotify wrapped is anything to go by we, as people, love these kinds of metrics. It’s fun to engage with and is fun to compare with your friends in person or online. In a world where helping the environment can feel lonely and futile, Too Good To Go has created something that keeps users motivated and feeling rewarded for their service. Over its seven years of operation, Too Good To Go has saved an astounding 220 million meals from going to waste. That’s the equivalent of avoiding 550,000 tonnes of CO2e emissions. That’s a chonk of savings.
Unlike other third-party apps, Too Good To Go is universally liked. No one is getting rich off Too Good To Go, but it helps everyone involved just enough so that it feels fair to all. It’s fun to use, it saves everyone money, and it saves the planet. How could we not be obsessed with it?
Sure, try Too Good To Go for yourself. If you haven’t snagged a Surprise Bag, you can download the app here and give it a go.
Elsewhere on CHAR: How to Be Sustainably Sparkly