Minimizing food waste through social circle sharing, recipe suggestions, and inventory tracking
Making it easy and efficient to search and sign home rentals based on the user's preferences without being scammed
According to the National Zero Waste Council’s research on household food waste in Canada, almost 2.2 million tonnes of edible food is wasted each year, costing Canadians in excess of $17 billion. In addition to economic costs, food waste has substantial environmental impacts. Wasted food wastes the resources used to grow, produce, and distribute that food to consumers and produces greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change. Canada’s 2.2 million tonnes of avoidable household food waste is equivalent to 9.8 million tonnes of CO2 and 2.1 million cars on the road.
Read more about food waste in Canada.
In Canada, the value of usable groceries that wind up in landfills or other disposal sites is almost $50 billion. In Toronto, 91, 304 tonnes of food is wasted annually. Toronto households create 100kg of unnecessary food waste per year.
Food and other organic material incorrectly put in garbage bins end up in landfills where it decomposes and produces greenhouse gases like methane. Toronto’s Green Bin program was designed for unavoidable food waste (e.g. scraps, peels, cores). Putting avoidable food waste, such as leftovers or spoiled food, in the Green Bin creates the need for additional resources and management and increases costs.
How might we help individual households plan their meals in order for them to optimize expiring items?
A mobile application that assists you in sharing unused food and making simple and delicious recipes with expiring items in your fridge.
To empower individual households to recognize and address food inventory in the home in order to minimize food waste by 10% over the next six months
Give was a design sprint project completed in a week. The Double Diamond Design Approach was followed. The design thinking process was split up into 4 phases: Starting with research, moving on to synthesis, ideation, testing, and ending with finalized designs.
People do not recognize that they waste lots of food.
Creating awareness or showing how to use purchased food effectively will reduce food wastage.
Efficiently managing food inventory will reduce wastage.
Households have a desire to want to reduce food waste.
All food types are amenable to make a positive contribution to food waste reduction.
One can measure how much food waste has been reduced.
People are overbuying, or buying items without a purpose or reason.
People care about how their actions are affecting the world.
We can change consumption patterns through tech.
Over-purchasing is one of the major factors contributing to household food waste.
People don’t keep track of the quantities they’re purchasing and/or what they already have in stock.
Cannot measure food consumption or waste metrics.
Savings cannot be tracked without measuring food waste.
Users will be able to buy and dispose-off food from inventory based on free will.
Food will be shared within a social circle.
Purchasing patterns and behaviors are hard to predict in situations like COVID as it prompts bulk purchases due to uncertain supply.
Secondary Research was conducted to gain insights into the amount of domestic food waste generated in Canada. From the articles published in journals and magazines, it was evident that this is a huge problem and this space could use innovation on multiple fronts.
of Canada’s food waste could have been avoided
of food, per person, is wasted in Canada each year
Qualitative data from user interviews were used to get an understanding of the food wastage occurring.
21 Participants were interviewed for qualitative data. The average interview duration was 10 minutes.
Participants were not distinguished based on their lifestyle habits.
Please tell me about your experience around food, including pre, during, and post meals?
What would/could prove to be helpful in your food preparation stages (including if ordering out)?
Are there any improvements, in your experience, that you would recommend around food consumption, either prepared or ordered in?
What are the steps you take when you bring food into the house?
What is your process around dealing with leftovers in your household? What do you feel leads to leftovers in your household?
What are your thoughts and feelings about food waste in your household?
Primary and secondary research conducted provides loads of data that are unusable without proper synthesis. The synthesis steps vary according to the research method used to collect data and according to the number of participants. Empathy map and deriving insights from keywords are common synthesis methods.
Leftovers are a main cause of food waste.
Incorrect portion sizes in food delivery can lead to a lot of food waste.
The time and ease of cooking can be a factor in using up ingredients in the inventory.
People do not understand how much food is wasted.
Food in inventory is not used up before the expiry date.
People need suggestions and cooking plans based on the inventory they have.
Bulk buying without planning results in the majority of leftovers and expired food.
Inefficient storage and tracking of inventory results in faster degradation and inefficient usage of food.
Based on the insights from the user interviews, a primary user persona was created. This persona worked as points of focus for the segment of customers I needed to keep in mind. The persona conveys traits, behaviors, personal goals, frustrations, pain points, direct quotes, and motivations of the potential users I interviewed.
A Journey Map was created to gain a deeper understanding of the tasks that users go through their journey of buying, cooking, and disposing of food waste. Developing a journey map for the persona helped me in thinking about opportunities that can be incorporated into the feature set to help the user.
Deducing the opportunity to make a difference
Based on the journey map, the opportunity selected for design intervention was Meal Prep/Planning Stage. Many of the applications that exist in this space have features to add recipes and have a shopping list, but lack recipe suggestions and cannot track inventory. Based on a quick competitor analysis, an approach that would tackle unused food inventory was chosen as the way forward.
Synthesized research insights help in the ideation process of a solution. I began by noting down ideas to tackle the problem. The ideation phase is the most enjoyable part of product design as you get to draw out the solution and think over it multiple times, iterating each time a new idea pops up. The first step was to create user stories and tasks.
User stories are created to find scenarios that the user would find himself engaging in while using the application. It helps in easily noting down the needs and wants of the user in a particular problem space. The user story is the start to finish of interaction from the user with the application for a single task. Multiple tasks will have multiple user stories and will help in keeping the application as focussed as possible to what the user needs.
User Task Priorities
Tasks are derived from user stories. These tasks will be performed by the user in the app.
These user tasks are then split into 4 Epics:
Share food in inventory with connections.
View recipe suggestions based on items in inventory.
Add items to your shopping list.
Track items in inventory based on the expiry date.
Standout Epic: Share food in inventory with connections.
The main task flow is to share items in the inventory that is close to their expiry date. This reminds the user to consume the food and avoids wasting the item.
Task Flow Diagram
A task flow diagram is drawn out based on the standout epic. The user story here is to make a post about items in the kitchen inventory and share it with social connections. The task flow diagram lists out tasks to be performed by the user, system states in between, and screen needed for the task.
The core task is to post about a pizza that has not been eaten. The user takes a photo and adds a description and price for the pizza. Users can set the price to zero to give the pizza away for free.
Sketching out variations of screens for the chosen task flows was the next step. These sketches went through many iterations. Sketches aid in scribbling down design ideas easily and effectively. The sketch shown below is version 3.
From the finished sketches for the project, I moved into creating the wireframes for level 1 user testing. The feedback from level 1 user testing was used to create a version 2 wireframe prototype. User testing was done again and the feedback was incorporated into version 3. The feedback received from user testing after version 3 was reviewed and implemented as per the Effort and Impact of the change. The wireframe shown below has feedback included after user testing wireframe version 2.
Wireframe and Information Architecture
Wireframing is done as per the sketches for user testing. Information Architecture is as per the image shown below. This hierarchy is based on user tests and iterations.
User Testing and Feedback
Store- a well-liked feature where the list of items are organized by descending expiry dates (fridge icon)
The app could recommend items to buy based on recipe selection (incorporated after user testing version 1)
Push notifications for expiring items
Sync between inventory, recipes and shopping list
Catchy / like the name of the app
Easy to use, efficient information architecture
Questions around why the camera functionality did not lead to the social page (Camera was in the home screen in version 1, moved to the add item screen to avoid confusion after user testing).
The purpose of the camera/scan feature is not obvious - mistook for taking pics and posting on social media (Camera was in the home screen in version 1, moved to the add item screen to avoid confusion after user testing).
Some confusion if the Share feature shares the posts on this app or is integrated with others.
Delivering the MVP experience
After the navigation from the home page to different screens and the bottom navigation bar was set in stone, the next phase was to change the wireframes to high fidelity designs. A mood board was created for the application based on pictures and fonts related to homes. The mood board was then used with adobe color extractor to find accessible color palettes for the application and for branding.
The Moodboard reflects a green feel which is to give a fresh and cool feel. This color palette was used both in branding and for applying visual design.
Based on quick iterations, a logo was designed to resemble a storage pocket. This is also used in profile page and branding.
The whole project lasted 1 week. There is a lack of adherence to grids and spacing due to the project being a limited time sprint design model. The next steps would be to:
Introduce an onboarding process
Correct grid and spacing issues
Refine visuals for accessibility
Develop an adaptation of the app on a smart fridge with a 15-inch display.
Research can bring a different perspective to the problem space. Suddenly, the problems are challenges that have solutions.
Embracing ambiguity helped spark creativity in the solution.
More sketches mean more solutions and more options to test out before wireframing.
User testing can uncover confusion that leads to an unpleasant experience. The design elements that cause this confusion might seem so obvious.
Minimum viable product (iOS)
Insights from Interviews
“I forget what's stored at the back of the
“I feel guilty about wasting food”
“My meals depend on whatever is convenient”
Secondary Epic: View recipe suggestions based on items in inventory.
The secondary task flow focusses on recipe suggestion given to the user based on the items she/he has in the inventory. This prompts the user to use up items in the inventory before adding/buying new items.
Incorporating More Feedback
The Store and the expiry tracker are the biggest features of the app, So they are moved closer to home in the navigation bar.
The Camera button sits ambiguously on the top right confusing users, As an improvement, this is changed to scan icon with a + sign to show the functionality of adding items to inventory or posting to feed.
The app would be able to recommend recipes based on expiring items with Sync between inventory, recipes, and shopping lists.
The Recipe page shows the number of ingredients.
The positive sign for share is made more obvious.
High Fidelity Design
Wireframes are turned into High fidelity design using the colors derived from the mood board.
© 2020 Neuel Sam
Discover, define, develop and deliver
Hello, I am Neuel Sam. A systems design engineer crafting products based on human-centered design. Welcome to my portfolio.