For OpenIDEO’s challenge on reducing food waste, I created the “Food Waste Forecast.” This is a way to combat a major environmental and economic issue by educating the public.
What is a food waste forecast?
Every week, a “food waste forecast” that reports how much food waste the local county has created will be featured on the news. The forecast will have an expert from the local waste management company be live at the the waste management site. He or she will explain the food waste data collected, along with some analysis about why there is so much food waste and who is throwing away the most food. Then, a graph with the data of the past month (or however many weeks necessary) will show the changes in how much food has been wasted. The presentation style is much like a weather forecast, with an anchor indicating significant points of interest while physically standing in front of the graph and directing the focus of the viewer to certain parts of the graph. At the end of the segment, a piece of advice will be suggested on how to reduce food waste. In addition, groups or organizations can advertise a product, app, website, or their group after the forecast.
Why a forecast?
Because adults and parents do not attend school where they are informed about food waste the way students do, a food waste forecast on the news would be able to educate them on their community’s food waste habits. A 6-8 minute forecast is short enough to keep the viewers engaged once a week, but long enough to leave an impression on them. Because the forecast would occur weekly, it serves as a regular reminder to consider how much food the viewers buy, but not too often that the segment becomes monotonous and ineffective. A forecast is the easiest way to promote the idea of food waste to people because although informative documentaries and pages of research exist, most working adults claim they have no time to dedicate to learning about their impact on the environment. Watching a news segment, however, is convenient and efficient. For some, their routine does not change as they already watch the news. Documentaries are engaging and impactful, but only for so long. After a couple weeks of watching a long movie, the effect wears off. Because the forecast happens weekly, the results are lasting.
How does it work?
In order to start the forecast, there must be data and analysis. The Sustainability manager at a waste management company would collect data about how much waste the company receives, specifically food waste in the compost and trash, and note the trends of how the amounts of food waste fluctuate. Once there is a solid report of data, the manager then collaborates with the local TV news broadcasters to offer a new feature on the news. The waste management company would use its marketing budget because this segment promotes the company, but the company could also try negotiating to see if the broadcasters would feature the forecast for free. The news broadcasters benefit from this because it shows that the broadcasters are environmental-conscious.
The advice at the end of the segment could attract a greater audience because the segment would show people how to save food and groceries, therefore how to save money. This is a universally appealing aspect that will draw viewers, which benefits the news broadcasters as well.
If, after all the financial affairs are determined and the waste management company wants more funding to support the news segment, then it could start charging a small extra fee to households for which the company collects waste. When the public finds out that a part of their money is going towards food waste awareness, the public will also be more aware.
The waste management company can also feature advertisements from other groups or organizations that want to promote themselves and the elimination of food waste. Advertisements become a form of revenue, which can help fund this news forecast.