I’ve gone in circles. Over and over again. Lamenting my inability to choose. Lying in bed late at night consumed with flickers of thoughts that my sleep deprived mind latches onto, only to be disenchanted by those very ideas the next morning. It’s been weird. Trying to latch onto a problem, I’ve gone from thinking about sustainable farming practices (I had an idea to build a sustainable farm simulation game, but that task is humongous), to food science and technology (an app that explains what all those ingredients in your food are), to GMO’s (how do we get people to not be so black and white about the issue?), to, what I think finally is where I want to go, food waste.
As I said in an earlier post, I think we’re in a great position to act as ambassadors and educators. We can make the unseen seen, and ensure people understand the implications of their actions. That’s where I want to live. To be able to demonstrate to people that actions have inevitable consequences. We’ve been so far removed from both ends of our food system (production to waste) that we have no real conception of either end.
So, my idea to address food waste is to make people acutely aware of how much food they are wasting. Sure, the impact of one person compositing is small, and maybe much larger strides can be made by changing the way supermarkets operate, or reworking distribution so that food doesn’t travel as far and thus has less time to spoil. But think small. So, bring in the Smart Trash Can (actual name pending).
There are smart trash cans out there, but they seem solely concerned with efficiency. This one is also a vaccuum. Cans thats tell you when they are full are rolled in out in cities so the waste department can identify when cans are full and create more efficient routes for pickup. There’s a trash can attachment that scan’s the barcodes of your items as you throw them away, logging them in a shopping list for you. What? Pretty dumb. But what if your trash logged actually interesting information? How much trash are you actually throwing away? What does all that trash amount to in terms of methane off-gasing once it’s in a landfill? Could the can identify objects that should be recycled instead of trashed? Or composted?
The goal here being education. If people can gain a more fundamental understanding of the amount of waste they create, in a tangible, real way, then perhaps they’ll think more deeply about what and what they don’t throw away. Or buy in the first place.