WE ARE WHAT WE DON’T EAT





a series of interventions in RISD’s dining halls to significantly increase composting and improve awareness about food waste, done as a work-study with RISD Dining. 

 

THE PROBLEM:


  1 
Composting facilities already existed at RISD

  2 
but  a weak visual presence

  3 
meant those facilities went underutilized


Using enviromental observation, I found that of students with compostable food waste:


 a pie chart showing that only 38 percent students compost, while 62 percent of students do not.


and user surveys revealed confusion and a lack of awareness about compost and food waste:


“I didn’t know we had compost”

“my eyes are usually bigger than my stomach”

“I just want to avoid spending time in there [the food waste area]”  



so after some brainstorming...






I worked closely with RISD Dining Services management to implement...



SOLUTION v1


a). awareness campaign 





b). food waste area redesign









But my work
didn’t end there...



upon reviewing the efficacy of Solution v1 after a semester of implementation, I found three opportunities for improvement:



food waste
sorting

sorting between compostables (fruit, veggies, napkins) and non-compostables (dairy, meat, oil) was still overwhelming for students.
poster
fatigue

students are exposed to a lot of posters - making a standard awareness campaign only marginally valuable.
maintenance
“creep”

a lack of communication with janitorial staff meant that the intended structure of the food waste area was not mantained.  




With these constraints in mind, I implemented...

SOLUTION v2


a diagram, showing the before and after, where the after has a more obvious use of color and space.

a). food waste area redux







b). interactive awareness campaign






QR Code scavenger hunt with interactive, actionable information 









postscript


As a result of the We Are What We Don’t Eat Campaign, RISD Dining estimated a ~90% composting rate for food waste in 2019, compared to a measured 38% before.