Location: New York City, New York
When people dive into the world of food justice and sustainability, you can bet they’ll encounter one problematic question: how do we have feast and famine at the same time, side by side? One place will have up to forty percent of food going to waste, and in the next town over, people won’t know where their next meal will come from. One child will deal with obesity, another with undernutrition. These issues haven’t been solved because the problems underlying them, the problems of inequality and access and distribution, are themselves unsolved and will likely remain unsolved for some time. Of course, that doesn’t mean there aren’t little ways to close the gap in food access and inch closer to a just food system.
Hello Compost is one such project that addresses food inequality on the small scale. Their target: low income families in New York City. Their plan: turning compost into food in a tangible way. Hello Compost’s journey started in 2013 when Project EATS, an urban farming nonprofit, approached two graduate design students at Parsons University, Aly Blenkin and Luke Keller. Project EATS wanted to make composting feasible for city dwellers. This materialized into a business, Hello Compost, that encourages families to compost and to bring that compost to where it can best be used. Hello Compost incentivizes composting by weighing the compost that’s brought in and then giving families credits that can be redeemed for fresh fruits and vegetables from Project EATS’s farms. Giving back a tangible reward in the form of fresh, local food makes the benefits of composting readily obvious to those who would otherwise not have the time or inclination to think about waste reduction or agriculture. To sweeten the pot even further, Blenkin and Keller recruited New York City students to create beautifully designed composting bags that can be put in the freezer to eliminate the smell of food waste and can then be thrown in a laundry machine for easy cleaning. With Hello Compost, there are few reasons for these families not to compost: it’s made easy and immediately worthwhile.
Hello Compost is in the process of gaining certification by the New York City Housing Authority so they can start operations. However, they’ve already been awarded as finalists in Fast Company’s 2013 Innovation by Design competition for their creative and socially conscious design concept. Hello Compost turns the dual problems of food waste and food access on their heads and helps to bring a little bit more equality to the food system. When it comes to keeping people fed, every small step counts.
Environmental Impact: Reduced food waste
Measurement: Hello Compost
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