Time for a leadership step-up

Tessa Clarke
3 min readJun 20, 2022


I was invited to be a guest speaker at the Mayor of London’s annual business reception on 15th June 2022. This is what I said…


A few years ago I came across a concept that absolutely blew my brains

It’s called ‘Earth Overshoot Day’

Earth Overshoot Day is the day in the year in which humanity has used all the resources that the earth can replenish in a year

It was first measured in 1969, and back then Earth Overshoot Day was the 31st December

Which means that we used in a year what the earth could replenish in a year — we were living in equilibrium with the planet

Fast forward to last year….

Earth Overshoot Day was the 29th July

So what that means is that every single thing, that every single one of us 7.5 billion people consumed after 29th July last year was net, net depletive to the planet.

Clearly this is unsustainable.


And that’s why we’re so passionate about our work at OLIO

OLIO is an app that connects people with their local community so that surplus food and other household items can be given away, rather than thrown away; and everyday things can be lent and borrowed, instead of bought brand new

We also have over 50,000 trained volunteers who collect unsold food from local businesses, and redistribute it to the community via the OLIO app so that food can be eaten, not thrown away.

We started in 5 postcodes in North London in 2015

And a couple of weeks ago we passed a major milestone of having our 6 millionth person join OLIO!

Together they’ve successfully shared over 55 million portions of food and 5 million non-food items. And the environmental impact of all this sharing has been equivalent to taking 164 million car miles off the road, and we’ve saved 8.3 billion litres of water

But what’s most exciting is that we’re doing less than 0.01% of our full potential!

So just imagine what we can do as we scale…


We couldn’t have achieved any of this were it not thanks to the incredible support we’ve received from London

We’re part of a thriving peer group of tech 4 good start-ups looking to change the world for the better…

And we’ve benefited enormously from the support of the Mayor of London’s International Business Programme — thank you — as well as Tech Nation’s Upscale and Net Zero programmes


Looking to the future it’s clear that we’re at an incredibly challenging, and arguably existential, juncture for humanity — as we confront multiple crises…

The climate crisis; the biodiversity crisis; the resource depletion crisis; the social inequality crisis; and now, the cost of living crisis

However, I firmly believe that from great adversity comes great opportunity…

Three years ago London was named by NESTA as the number one European city for developing and growing tech 4 good solutions, addressing humanity’s greatest social & environmental challenges…

And so we have incredible foundations in place as a city to really start solving these crises at scale.

And in doing so, earn our place in history

But, for this to happen we need a leadership step-up — and for that we need leadership that is both brave and diverse

There is incredible power, and potential, in this room tonight; and so borrowing from the words of Ghandi, I implore you all to please “LEAD the change you wish to see in the world”

Thank you

With the Mayor of London after my speech



Tessa Clarke

Co-Founder & CEO of Olio, the local sharing app. Getting my head around the climate crisis. Passionate about sustainability, startups & diversity.