Social Business News

Why do we waste so much food, and what can we do about it?

In my daily life I notice that valuable (energy) sources are being wasted, especially food. How come we throw away food when it could potentially be transformed into new biomass, such as compost? What solutions could be designed in order to encourage people to live more sustainably on a day-to-day basis? These questions were my starting point for my graduation project at Enviu, which turned into an interactive model for neighbourhood composting.

My name is Emilie Dack. I’m half French, half English and I grew up in the Netherlands. I’m 24 years old and finishing up my studies in Communication and Multimedia Design at the Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences – a four-year design course where I’ve learned how to research problems creatively and design solutions from a user’s perspective. For some, the fun is in designing the website, application or other interface itself, giving it a face. What I like best is to dive deep into user research, figuring out what people need, where problems lie and coming up with solutions.

About six years ago I first heard about Enviu because of the sustainable dance floor project. Ever since I’d kept this company on my radar in the hopes of one day being able to join the team (even if just for a short while) to work on projects with a clear social and environmental impact. When I started looking for a graduation project placement, I called Enviu straight away.

Stop wasting, start composting

Right now, I’m about halfway through my graduation project on neighbourhood or community composting. My research is aimed at enabling households in Rotterdam to take part in composting projects. I think the first step towards sustainable living has a lot to do with having the right mind set, but a lot of us experience a bit of a hurdle when it comes to actually applying the right habits to “become greener” in our daily lives. This is one of the main aspects of my research, where I focus on helping users to keep their food waste (left over from cooking) separate from the rest, in order to make compost.

My solution is a service which picks up the organic waste at people’s doorstep, in exchange for prizes and tips about new, green businesses in Rotterdam. The idea is to make it as simple as possible for users to get rid of their organic waste in a way that helps the community: the waste is brought to gardening initiatives, where it is turned into compost.

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Small preview of the website
Hopefully this will help solve a problem for the user and for the municipality of Rotterdam. Thanks to my colleagues and their great advice, I’ve been able to improve the quality of the solution. Working at Enviu is great, there’s a wonderful atmosphere and everyone is really friendly. I really hope we can continue to develop this service and make Rotterdam a bit more green!

Future Plans

Sustainability and user experience design isn’t all I’m interested in though – I like doing things that bring a bit of simplicity and happiness, like my new business Dorst. I make and sell lemonade: it’s simple and fresh, reminding you to take a break once in a while. You can have a taste in café Stroop. Enjoy and thanks for reading!