I’m interested in food waste.


The problem.
Food waste is a widespread issue in the world, where about one third of food produced for consumption is usually discarded (Food &  Agriculture Organization). In the United States, approximately 40% of the food that is produced gets thrown out (Food &  Agriculture Organization).

In a world where 1 in 9 people do not have enough food to live a healthy active life (World Food Programme), it is important to find ways to redistribute food that is being irresponsibly discarded.

Who are the culprits?
Due to lack of access to food education and resources, we are all culprits. Many times, we discard an item due to it’s appearance event though it is still edible. We throw away parts of produce (ex. a kale stem) because we do not know how to properly utilize it. We may forget a doggie bag we took back from a restaurant in the fridge, or maybe just toss it out after a couple of days because there was just no time to consume it. We judge the quality of produce by the way that it looks. We reason that if a carrot is deformed, then surely its taste must be sub par.

Where does this happen?
For this project I decided to focus on two sources, restaurants and grocery stores.

In restaurants, an important driver for large amounts of food waste is large portion sizes. Usually, customers are not able to finish their meals and will take them home or have them be discarded. These leftovers have potential to be someone else’s meal, however, they are just thrown out.

In grocery stores, due to socially constructed norms of what is edible and what is not, large chains usually only select the attractive produce and throw out the rest. Additionally, due to policy, once a product reaches it’s expiration date, they must throw out the product even if it is still edible.

What can I do?
Having looked at the origins and possible scenarios, I see potential in acting within the field of restaurants. Grocery stores have begun to take measures to curb food waste, either by offering expired items at a discounted price or giving away deformed produce to farmers markets. On the other hand, because it is a relatively new concept, few restaurants have begun taking measures to curb food waste. And because of the large food portions that the restaurant industry prefers, there is incredible potential for of these resources.

What is necessary now is to create a framework of knowledge and resources for restaurant owners and consumers to guide them in making smart choices when it comes to food waste and leftovers.

Problems I may encounter:
Since I am talking about businesses and business owners, I believe my biggest challenge will be to get them to collaborate and have them be willing to change the way they do business. Additionally, as human beings, we have very ingrained ideals about what edible food represents. Therefore, changing this perception will also prove to be an obstacle.

Below is a visual representation of this issue:

  • To the left are the potential uses of food that could be discarded (donate, take home, refrigerate)
  • In the top middle, the sources (grocery stores/consumers, restaurants)
  • To the right what is usually discarded (misshapen food, leftovers, expired items)
  • In the middle a photo depicting food waste

Artboard 1

Below is the icon I chose to represent this issue, it incorporates food and waste and has the cutlery forming an ‘x’, which alludes to the prevention of food discarding.

  1. Abstract structure | Gradation| Invisible/inactive structure
    Concrete Objects | Geometric Form
    VL_Icon-012. Concrete structure | Formal Structure | Active Structure
    Concrete Objects | Geometric Form


3. Abstract structure | Gradation– Radiation | Invisible/inactive structure
Concrete objects | Geometric form


4. Concrete Structure | Informal Structure | Visible structure
Concrete objects | Geometric form




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