Meet the St Andrews students behind climate conscious food delivery service ecoeats
Delivering your noodles and saving the planet at the same time
If you’re in St Andrews, chances are you’ve delivered a takeaway from ecoeats.
ecoeats riders are often seen dashing around delivering food from a number of places that deliver exclusively through the company including fan favourites Little Italy, Blackhorn and CombiniCafe.
But where did they come from? And what is their aim? The St Andrews Tab managed to grab an interview with the founders, Phil Houseley who studies MSc Artificial Intelligence and Stewart McGown a 4th year studying Computer Science. Here’s what we found out:
When was ecoeats founded?
ecoeats was founded in February 2020, after Phil met Stewart and the two began to work on the project, which then launched the following month. It’s grown quite a bit since then but it’s amazing to look back at where we came from to where we are now.
What inspired you?
Phil worked as a delivery cyclist in the food delivery industry, and saw firsthand the reality of how the industry was shifting to larger vehicles, more emissions, and away from its industry grassroots. He saw an opportunity to push for a fundamental shift in the delivery industry: Zero emissions, and a fairer deal for our cyclists, for our partners and for our community. And from there, ecoeats was born.
How many riders does ecoeats have?
ecoriders are entirely self-managed, which means we have a rolling basis of ecoriders who join, deliver, and sometimes even come back to us after a break. The number of active riders also hugely depends on orders day-to-day and the individual schedules of ecoriders. We have upwards of 100 riders registered with us, some of these are ecoeats regulars, while others help out occasionally but we’re always open to more people registering and falling in love with delivery cycling.
Who does ecoeats employ?
Our company is primarily made up of St Andrews students and alumni due to the location and values of our business, however we employ people from all walks of life. We look for people who have a passion for sustainability and who are interested in the wonderful world that developing a startup will introduce you to.
How many people use ecoeats?
Our regular customers vary, but since our launch we have had upwards of 5,000 customers order through us! It’s been an interesting metric throughout Covid measures and the brief summer season at St Andrews; our orders have been a healthy mix of both students and locals, as well as anecdotal visitors to St Andrews who decided to give us a go.
What makes ecoeats unique?
ecoeats aims to genuinely provide a fairer deal for everyone involved. Our main USP is that we’re a zero emissions delivery company, so comparatively much better for the environment than other competitors, but ecoeats is more than that.
We provide our partners with rates that respect and support rather than profiteer off of their business, we aim to make delivery as grassroots and as accessible as possible for our riders, we hope to minimise air pollution in our community through keeping deliveries both emission and particulate-free, and we’re always looking for ways to further engage with the community in the form of partnerships, blogs and sustainability awareness campaigns.
We contribute to local community projects, for example, by donating to CASA, and we support our partners, for example, by rebating our profits to our partners over the peak of Covid restrictions.
Why did you think St Andrews would be the best place to start?
As majority St Andrews students and alumni when we first launched ecoeats, it made sense to start in a place close to home. Aside from practicality, St Andrews is also ideal in that we have a strong network of independent and small businesses.
Part of our founding ethos is to fairly support these businesses in the face of big chains, as we aim to deliver a fairer deal to all. Being able to talk directly with the local businesses here was a great entry point to start the conversation and get people interested in what we’re trying to do.
There’s also a strong sense of support for sustainable initiatives, which, as a zero emissions delivery company, we really use to push the boundaries of how green St Andrews can be.
Do you have any plans for expansion / growth?
Definitely! We have big plans for ecoeats to push the delivery industry forward to a more sustainable model. We’re currently investing time into really solidifying processes behind the scenes, in order to create a strong foundation for the next steps on our journey. It’s an essential part of the process, and suffice to say that we’re more than excited to see where things will take us.
What else do you think students can do to promote sustainability?
A whole host of things. As much as we pride ourselves on being a zero emissions delivery company, we’re always looking for ways to go greener, and the same goes for the local and student population too.
We cover topics on our blog for students to get involved with (blog.ecoeats.uk), from managing food waste to an introduction to thrift-flipping, and we are currently in the middle of an A-Z of Sustainability campaign that aims to educate and inspire on sustainable topics.
Beyond ecoeats, there is so much that can be done in our student community. Actively engaging with the other environmental organisations here, practising activism as well as individual lifestyle changes, but perhaps most importantly, students should talk to people about sustainability. From family to friends, to coworkers, employers and politicians, our values and our realities only shift when people do. Sustainability is about conversation, and it is about action.
ecoeats is aiming to promote what we can and where we can in our corner of shifting to a greener tomorrow, and the more people that push their corner of sustainability too, the better the world will be.
Anything else you’d like to add?
Not much, aside from that this interview is rather famishing… maybe it’s time for a delivery?