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"Go-between" Get Involved and let´s reduce food waste _ (Updated 13/10/16 Prototypes and collaborative activity)

A crowdsourcing app to allow food-packaging designers to collect in-depth insights from users, in order to reduce food waste in households.

Photo of Ana Milena Marquez
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*At the end you will find a collaborative activity, Get involved and let´s reduce food waste*

Thank you!

Food waste is one of the most vital issues that humans need to tackle nowadays. Thus, designers could help reduce the amount of food wasted, and it can be significantly reduced, by introducing an innovative and effective packaging design. That, in turn, can prolong the food lifespan, keeping it fresh for a longer period of time. Food waste is equivalent to 166 million tonnes of CO2 while packaging waste generates 11 million tonnes of CO2 (Quested, T., Ingle, R. and Parry, A., 2013), which demonstrates the importance of tackling food waste.

Wasting food is not only an issue in terms of the mere portion of food that is wasted, but in all the resources that were necessary to bring that food to the customers table. Including water, CO2 emissions, and transportation, among others. The amount of money spent by households on food and drink increased from £88 in 2000 to £319 in 2013 (Quested, T., Ingle, R. and Parry, A., 2013). It can be seen the significant increase in customers’ expenditure on food rather than on other household needs.

On the other hand, the generation of new ideas has always been in hands of the companies, where the users were involved in latter stages of the design process, to verify the concept, or involved in primary research such as participating in surveys to identify their needs. But lately users have gain perspective towards the relevance of participating and showing their ideas, therefore perceived as a new source for idea generation by companies (Howe, 2009). By crowdsourcing, users can provide high quality insights and ideas to solve specific problems; moreover those that have direct impact to them. The ideas collected from users can be used at the idea generation stage, and complement those generated by companies, moreover can be turned into starting points for new concept developments (Poetz and Schreier, 2012).

The users that innovate do it based on what they really need and what they want, innovating for themselves, as some of the users share their innovations others can take advantage of it and implement them, this shows its commercial attractiveness (von Hippel, 2005). For the purpose of this project it will be collected the ways in which customers solve the problems they encounter, getting insights and innovations that then would be managed by companies to develop high quality products or services.

As a result, a crowdsourcing platform that enables packaging companies and designers to collect users insights and their innovations towards reducing food waste in households will be developed. Thus, stimulating potential users to develop new promising ideas and to share them through the insight collector platform, with the aim of reducing food waste.

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“go-between” is a crowdsourcing toolkit, an App that works as mediator between customers and food-packaging companies. Based on a crowdsourcing activity collaborating to achieve a co-innovation.

The toolkit is constantly providing new tasks which users; both customers and companies have free access to.

It is divided in two separate sites, one for “insighters” and one for “designers”.

  • Insigther: Work directly with one company or keep an insights diary by uploading insights as they come out. They will get rewarding points for each task that is Insighter completed. Insighters are able to share how they interact with food when buying it, storing it, cooking it, eating it and disposing it. Through “go-between” achieves an insights enhancement.
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  • Designer: Have a great opportunity to collect valuable customers insights that could give a start up or even a developed idea to take further towards design food packaging. Can build tasks based on templates or new ones to construct their brief and specify the target data they want to collect. After Designers launch their project they can see in real time the stats of the project, like which tasks are the most popular, where is it reaching its insight target. The outcome will be an organized set of insights that they can have at their disposition. Also they could establish a one-to-one conversation with specific insighters to further understand their behaviour.

Developing a toolkit focused on collecting customers insights, including behavioural responses and their own solutions, was necessary to cluster what kind of insights would be collected with the toolkit. Thus, being able to harvest the target data, and not trivial information that could be unused. For that six categories were developed: Connect, Habits, Communication, Type of food, End of life and New ideas.

In order to achieve the objectives of the project, a collaborative innovation platform was developed and tested with users: customers and designers, each in their respective scenarios. However, during the testing stage with the participants, through their discourses it emerged additional categories that contribute to understand the social dynamics and customers behaviours towards food waste and packaging. These categories are “issues”, “needs” and “habits” that worked towards classifying in the design stage the insights collected with “go-between”.




*On my attachments you can find the paper based toolkit*

The “paper based toolkit” is the first stage of the physical prototyping method, where the “toolkit to collect insights” is designed to be tested with both users: customers and designers. Through the conjunction of pictures, videos and written records the users will interact with the toolkit; the insights will be collected by the customers fulfilling the tasks provided, built based on the “task-based instruction” mentioned above. On the other hand, designers will use the tools and insights provided to develop new improved and innovative products and services around packaging design.

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To sum up these were the final inputs of the six categories to collect customers’ insights:

    1. Connect: The customers are asked to find those relations between packaging and     food waste.

    2. Habits: The customers are asked to share their homemade innovations, the routines     that have turned into habits related with food and its packaging.

    3. Type of food: The customers are asked to sort the specify solutions to reduce food     waste that they have found for specific types of food.

    4. Communication: What is telling the customer the packaging, in terms of both labels     and those that trigger an action.

    5. End of life: What do the customers do with the packaging? And what they do with     the food waste?

    6. New ideas: This category is more likely to share what is not there in the market to     reduce food waste that the customers believe it should exist. Not that they have done     it but that they believe will be useful at their homes.

Furthermore, there are four different options to share the insights in order to fulfill the tasks, which are defined depending on the outcome wanted. The first one is “pictures”; customers are required to register through pictures their findings in their daily routines. The second one is “videos”; where the insights are shared in form of tutorials, as to be made by others. The third one is “personal experiences”; some of the ideas must be shared with words to clearly state what they want to transmit, adding comments, sometimes accompanied with pictures or videos. The fourth one is “growing stories”; referring to share insights in a step-by-step basis, with a combination of tasks between videos, pictures and comments, keep a visual record of how the solution evolves.

The key questions that users are able to answer by working with the “toolkit to collect insights” are the following:

  • How the use of packaging in households influences the amount of food wasted?
  • What customers will like to see in the packaging that could help them reduce food waste?
  • Which are the attitudes towards packaging that could influence the motivations to reduce food waste?
  • Which are the customers’ responses to different statements and the combination of them to develop more efficient communications?
  • Which are the main solutions founded by customers in their daily routines?


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Wrapping session

After seven days using “go between”, a wrapping session with customers was held, to assure to listen to their comments and recommendations about the toolkit. How it worked? How easy or difficult was to interact with the toolkit? What change from the first day to the last one? Was it interesting?

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These are some of the comments and recommendations made by customers registered during the wrapping session, showing that it is a useful tool to record their ideas, but sometimes overwhelming in a paper based format, due to they had too navigate many pages through the booklet which contained a lot of information at one time. This would be solved in the digital format where the tool will give focus to each category and each task; the customers would navigate through the toolkit on the same window.

Moreover, is important to highlight the positive impact that the toolkit has brought to the participants in this design test.


Design workshop: 6 participants

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The workshop allows validating the relation between the toolkit and the designers, by understanding under specific guidelines how they use the insights collected. Moreover, what kind of insights triggered different types of discussions?

The toolkit go-between was used in the tree first stages of the workshop. In the first one the workshop leader explain the aim of the workshop and gave to the participants the first general design brief, which was “Design a food packaging to reduce food waste in households”. Then the designers were provided with the insight collector toolkit.

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In the second stage designers started understanding the insights provided by the customers, each participant select one customer and start highlighting those solutions and important facts that they found with the information received, after this they had a closure of the stage by sharing those common findings.

In the third stage they found common places among the customers and start categorizing the insights given, they defined three new categories to evaluate the insights, highlighting the needs, the habits and the issues, in both those known facts that the customers can identify, and those latent facts that the customers can not identify. But with different point of views among designers was easier to find common places and common solutions.

The Design Outcome "Mr. Quinton"

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Fridge divider, “Mr. Quinton” where each compartment can be used to store individual vegetables and then you can customize what is stored in it, the products customers usually buy at the grocery store to bring home. Everything will start building up from a compartment basis, each compartment will be designed to keep a specific type of food fresher for longer. Customize it and take out the cupboards specialized for those products customers are allergic to or not use frequently.

The fridge should do everything; the vegetable drawers and the fridge itself should be better design where customers could have everything on place. Cooling system. The compartments can be taken to the grocery store, each compartment designed for specific types of fruits and vegetables, will work as the packaging for the transportation between the store to the home, at home the packaging will work as the storage.

After the testing process with both users; customers and designers it was important to understand the links made between the insights collected and the concepts developed with the results of the workshop, by identifying what kind of insights trigger what kind of discussions.

Designers started navigating carefully the toolkit and identifying the insights collected with it, via the six categories defined by the toolkit they start recognizing the value of the insights and making conclusions around them.




Interactions with potential users were made all throughout the development process of the App, and appropriate arrangements were being developed as the design progressed. In terms of interactions such as making bigger the widgets, making more clear the customers journey throughout the toolkit, adding a sliding menu so it was easer to navigate, defining the proper font so it will be more legible, among others.

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This specific prototype enables to test the interactions with the App specifically, thus the validation and requirements of the concept and the design were already defined in previews stages of this project.

The test was made with both experts and potential users including potential insighters and potential designers. The final test with the final prototype was made with two customers and two designers. So they can navigate the toolkit.

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The outcome of this prototype was that they found it easy going, clear and easy to interact with.  Moreover, customers claim that it would be a really useful tool to understand how they behave with food, and designers founded important to develop this kind of collaborative and co-innovative designs.

With “go-between”, can be harvested valuable customers insights, by providing tasks and showing it as their personal diary to share their solutions, insights and behaviours about food waste and packaging. The users of the toolkit have a sense of owning the tool, knowing that they are participating on a co-innovation from which both parties will have parallel benefits.

As a conclusion, it can be clearly seen that develop a decentralised tool that can link into formal decision making more effectively, taking inspiration from innovations made by customers in their homes to reduce food waste, showing that definitely it could influence on customers behaviours and on companies co- innovations.


**Collaborative Activity**

It will be highly appreciated if you can check some of the insights collected (you can find more pictures in my attachments) and develop a quick idea acting as a designer following this brief: “Design a food packaging to reduce food waste in households” and share it in the comments section.



Msc Integrated Product Design 

Brunel University of London

Dissertation Project

Supervisor: Fabrizio Ceschin

Second supervisors: Timothy Minton - Paris Selinas

What early, lightweight experiment might you try out in your own community to find out if the idea will meet your expectations?

I have already done diferent activities in London such as Quantitative survey, Non-participant observation, User diaries, Physical prototyping: Developing a “Paper based toolkit”. I will like to make it global and see if in Colombia I could find the same insights from users, if cultural habits could determine the customers behavior and if the amount of food waste in each country is related with their habits, and how designers can develop new ideas from both local and global insights.

What skills, input or guidance from the OpenIDEO community would be most helpful in building out or refining your idea?

I have done a thorough investigation about food waste, packaging, crowdsourcing, and developed the first stage of the final design. As a multidisciplinary and diverse community OpenIDEO could support this project by refining the design and exploring how GO-BETWEEN can help reduce food waste in different communities and cultures. As well developing the actual app and giving ideas to enhance this project at its best. The main skils: design collaboration, design thinking and human centered design.

Tell us about your work experience:

I am a Colombian Industrial Designer with MsC Integrated Product Design at Brunel University of London, I came back to Colombia and started working as a Director of Development and Innovation at a 100% Natural Juices Company. Before, I worked as the Creative Director at a company that plan, organize and develop corporative events. As well freelance work, not only designing in a beautiful way but also in order to respond to problems while maintaining environmental sustainability as a principle.

This idea emerged from

  • An Individual

How far along is your idea?

  • It was in the works before this challenge – it’s existed for 2-6 months

How would you describe this idea to your grandmother?

Go-between is a toolkit that act as a vehicle of information between customers and companies into one goal in common. The intention of this toolkit is to collect customers’ solutions to prevent food waste, they give their insights by sharing their habits and routines, and in effect the designers will translate the learning into action, to create new concepts and develop packaging with strong basis

How is your idea unique to the space?

As packaging designers, the companies will be able to find new solutions when working together with the customer, collecting their solutions to prevent food waste and understanding the reasons that are causing this problem. Those creative solutions will enhance both individual product differentiation and the true quality and value of collective human creation, with a sustainable background. With the toolkit it is possible to identify and understand the main causes of food waste in households.

Who needs to play a role in your idea in order to make it successful?

There are two main users of this crowdsourcing toolkit where the key relationship is between food and packaging customers called “insighters” and food packaging design companies called “designers”. The interaction will be throughout the app, where users will share their own solutions to prevent food waste in households, and packaging design companies where this knowledge will be used to develop new design concepts, working on a collaborative basis with the customers.

How do you plan to measure the impact of your idea?

How many “insighters” and designers get involved and if there are any successful ideas that came from using the crowdsourcing toolkit.

What are your immediate next steps after the challenge?

Partner with a design packing company to test the crowdsourcing toolkit. Develop a 100% working digital prototype, where users can upload the insights, words, pictures and videos and develop further the designers’ site, where they can download “insighters” insights, build tasks, and see stats. It can be developed not only an app but also a website where food-packaging companies could easily have access to the insights collected, while the customers stage could remain in an App format.


Join the conversation:

Photo of Tatiana Paz

This si a great example of how can user experience design contribute to a systematic innovation process in which designers, manufacturign industry, users, and  a post-life product can be creatively and strategycall a well thought process. Congratulations, its a magnificent Project.

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