How might we safely gather discarded-but-still-edible food within New York City? GoodFill makes unwanted, yet still-edible, food visible in New York City.
New York City sends 4 million tons of waste to landfills every year. Almost 1/3 of that is food waste. Throughout the five boroughs, approximately 1.4 million New Yorkers rely on soup kitchens and food pantries.
Food Banks must adhere to strict legal codes about the handling and distribution of food, particularly when it comes to mangled packaging and sell-by dates (dates for which most food is still edible).
New York City restaurants, in total, account for the largest single stream of commercial food waste. They generate close to a half million tons of food waste per year – enough to fill well over a hundred subway cars per day.
GoodFill is a design intervention that rebrands discarded, yet still-edible, food in order to make meals more visible and combat landfill waste.
Roles: Design Strategist, Design Researcher, Experience Designer
Methods: Service Design Tools, Human-centered Design Tools, Rapid Prototyping, Exploratory Field Trips, Exhibition as Research Tool.
Collaborators: Cameron Hanson, Christian Smirnow, Christopher Lopez, Jack Wilkinson.
Achievements: UNICEF Open House 2016, New Challenge Award Winner 2016, Social Innovation Week 2015.
1. Primary Research
After visiting the NYC Food Bank in Hunts Point and by joining a group of freegans in collecting edible food from sidewalk trash bags, we learned the challenges around food waste management in the city. A big amount of the edible food can not be given to consumers because legal liabilities like expiration dates and damaged packages.
We identified this threat as a design opportunity, while we questioned: How might we safely gather discarded-but-still-edible food within New York City? How might we change perceptions of what is good to eat?
3. The Proposal
The GoodFill bag is a transparent bag with distinctive fluorescent writing on it that allows the grocery, bodega or restaurant owners to label each bag with pertinent information about its contents and then leave it on the curb with food that they can no longer sell, but is still edible.
4. Exhibition As Research Tool
We got the privilege to showcase Goodfill at The Social Innovation Week 2015 in New York City. This exhibition allowed us to collect insights from everyday citizens.
5. The New Challenge Fellowship 2016-2017
Goodfill was awarded by The New Challenge initiative as one of the selected projects to be part of their fellowship program. New Challenge helps fellows develop as changemakers and lead real change in the world.
This project demonstrates that in the vastly large and complex of food systems in NYC, it can be a simple intervention, such as the redesign of the artifact of a so-called trash bag, that can make big impact.