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What's the Foodprint

Easy labeling has been a recurring theme in the concepts. After repeatedly mistyping the word footprint, I thought of the Foodprint label. The label can be put on food items, and represents the carbon footprint of a product, calculated on the basis of what is needed to grow the product, packaging and transport.

Photo of Arjan Tupan
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The foodprint logo can be a sticker or printed version on the food or packaging itself, and can also be an indicator of a very simple app. Scan the food's label (QR code or otherwise) and get a red, orange or green Foodprint back, so you know what's the impact of that product.

This concept is not so much a concept in itself, as more of a building block that can be used in other concepts. Some of them already in the great collection, and others maybe to come. Feel free to use it as you see fit.

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Photo of DeletedUser

DeletedUser

Arjan you'd love this! As of Dec 2009, atleast Tesco is already on it!

http://www.packagingnews.co.uk/business/tesco-carbon-footprints-milk/

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DeletedUser

Simple, meaningful, and hopefully creates awareness. :) Great concept Arjan! :)

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DeletedUser

Right on, Arjan. Yeah I didn't see this when I was going through the ideas earlier. I think this is a great idea. I'm really digging the simplicity.

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DeletedUser

Right on, Arjan. Yeah I didn't see this when I was going through the ideas earlier. I think this is a great idea. I'm really digging the simplicity.

Photo of DeletedUser

DeletedUser

Right on, Arjan. Yeah I didn't see this when I was going through the ideas earlier. I think this is a great idea. I'm really digging the simplicity.

Photo of Louise Wilson

Fab idea, Arjan. Thanks for simplifying an aspect of my concept! Simple and visual is good. Learnings from current labelling can definitely be utilised.

Photo of Arjan Tupan

Oh, but your concept is much more developed than this one. Feel free to incorporate it into yours. See it as a build. I was just very happy with my constant typo and see this concept more as a building block to use in others.

Photo of Louise Wilson

we need a 'combine' button underneath the 'build' button!

Photo of Sarah Fathallah

A 'combine' button, coupled with an 'Add contributor' one (there isn't always a single person behind a concept).

Photo of Arjan Tupan

I couldn't agree more, ladies. Would be great if you could add add it as a feature suggestion on the user forums. (Currently it seems they're not that easy to login to, but still).

Photo of Louise Wilson

I can't log in.... have tried numerous times but my details are never recognised!

Photo of Arjan Tupan

Yes, I know. They're currently having a bit of issues, but I'm told they're working on it.

Photo of Sarah Fathallah

Same here Louise!

Photo of Arjan Tupan

Maybe nice to report it through the feedback option at the bottom of the page. I think every response will help them in finding and fixing the issue sooner.

Photo of Meena Kadri

We are working on it – sorry guys. Please *do* jump on there when you can and thrash out a discussion on what you think would suit there. Given some of our uber-ideators are weighing in on this thread, we'd love you to continue to discuss on the User Forums! We're listening – I promise.

Photo of Arjan Tupan

Great. I like the user forums, it's just a bit sad that logging in does not work right now. But, we have gotten so many features here recently, that I'm not complaining.

Photo of Vincent Cheng

The Support tab on the left of every page is also quite useful for quickly giving feedback.

Photo of Louise Wilson

(Am I allowed to admit that I'd never noticed the Support tab before!? - thanks)

Photo of Arjan Tupan

Yes, you are, Louise. I know it's there, and still I often scroll all the way down....

Photo of Arjan Tupan

User forums seem to be up and running again. I added the 'Add contributor button' as a feature suggestion.

Photo of Sina Mossayeb

this is brilliant and simple (then again it's brilliance is in its simplicity). graphically: alternatively you can have a picture of a globe and a fist crushing it at various intensity for dramatic effect. just kidding ;)

so my question is: how does this affect farmers? would it hold them accountable for what they grow? will it help or impede them?

i wish we could file away ideas and concepts into a folder of references for future stuff (oh yeah, that's what bookmark is for). this is a keeper for sure!

Photo of Arjan Tupan

Great question Sina, led me to the reply to Ronan, for example. But foremost I am a strong believer that transparency for consumers can lead to changing demands for producers. And having some sort of knowledge center behind this that could help farmers answer to changing demands would be one idea.

Photo of An Old Friend

If the sticker sets the standard; it is up to the producers whether or not to pursue the "certification."

Regarding penalties, no company would want the "red foot" penalty labeled on their products, but companies may go as far as to alter their practices to achieve the "green foot" (friendly) status.

Using the LEED example (on a comment below), because customers value this certification, it motivates the entire construction industry to seek the label. The standard is set by a third party. Again, buildings that are not LEED certified don't have symbols that say "This building is not LEED certified." You could design it so that is only possible for local farms to achieve this environmental standard. Power in design.

This is a random idea, but you could put the label on the bottom of the container...almost turning it into a game where folks who are aware of it (in "the know") look under the container for this seal of approval.

Although there are other labeling ideas, taking this route certainly makes this idea stand-alone.

Photo of Sina Mossayeb

man. i really like the idea of having it on the bottom (classy and cute)--dont know how practical it would be, but it hi me in the right spot ;)

Photo of Sina Mossayeb

also arjan: as a build it could easily be included in the eatcyclopedia app, where "foot print" or any other indicator could appear next to the name (even if it is number of dots, 1-4 dots more dots=more impact)

Photo of Arjan Tupan

The idea for the label on the bottom rocks. As for the stickers, I see your point. I think the red and orange are more for online/apps. Or... for supermarkets that want to differentiate themselves. They could label these items by themselves. There are some setbacks in that, but it could work.

Photo of Sina Mossayeb

OK. Incorporated Louise and your idea into the Eatcyclopedia idea (see here, with additional updates): http://bit.ly/oi_foodapp

Photo of DeletedUser

DeletedUser

I think an interesting marketing campaign could be to have these footprints painted all around town on the street pavements. Maybe clean graffiti if we're not feeling the paint. They could also make for great in store promotions, dotted along the floor os supermarkets, leading to a local produce only space.

Photo of Arjan Tupan

I like that build. Maybe even as environmental stickers on road signs to indicate where to turn for a great local farm.

Photo of An Old Friend

I think you can make this concept stand alone (excuse the pun!).

I wonder if it could be a seal of approval, regarding the product's environmental impact? Taking an example from an industry that I worked in (architecture), the USGBC's LEED rating system is used to rate the environmental sustainability of buildings along several well defined criteria. In essence, developers began to seek certification because it increased the perceived value of their buildings!

Certifying organic food with the USDA approved label is quite rigorous, as I understand it, yet companies are incentivized to create products that can prominently display this label, as it is something customers look for.

In this particular case, a company that is motivated to be perceived as an environmentally conscious brand would alter its practices. Simple, but very powerful.

Photo of Arjan Tupan

Thanks for your comment, Kirk. I like the comparison with LEED. That could also teach us something about a possible business model. Helping companies to improve their processes and rating.
I see your point in the possibility of this one standing alone. However, there are already some great concepts in the challenge that have described the way of rating, rating algorithms etcetera. But I might give it a go, before the concepting phase is over :)

Photo of Anuja Singhal

A very simple solution to a bigger problem. Great thought Arjan! I am a bit concerned though about this 'little' detail getting lost in all the other details on food packaging these days.

Photo of Arjan Tupan

Anuja, that is an interesting thought. And an important one. I think a well designed way of putting it on packaging could help, even if it's small. Plus, there is the online signal. But your comment gives certainly food for thought...

Photo of DeletedUser

DeletedUser

Great idea, it's simple, visual, easy to understand, and meaningful in making people more aware of the impact of their consumption decisions. And it creates an incentive for companies to be more mindful of their packaging and transport decisions.

My only question is who would implement this, and how would the government be involved? There have been concerns in the past that "organic" is not necessarily organic and that there are varying definitions of what this means. Who would standardize and certify these prints and enforce definitions?

Photo of Arjan Tupan

Thanks Jennifer, and great question. I think that it would be smart to start with an app, as so many have suggested. That can be implemented by a start-up business. I think the role of the government lies mainly in ensuring that the base data is made available. But, I'm open to suggestions. What do you think would be a good way?

Photo of DeletedUser

DeletedUser

Not to throw a wrench into the equation, but could the Foodprint system also incorporate workplace ethics, quality of ingredients, etc? It seems like an independent third party would have to assess this. The issue with assessment is that it is a business within itself. As someone mentioned before, the definition of "organic" and even "fair trade" varies among certifying groups. The core question would be: who would pay for the evaluation to be conducted and how can that be a sustainable model? I like the concept!

Photo of DeletedUser

DeletedUser

Not to throw a wrench into the equation, but could the Foodprint system also incorporate workplace ethics, quality of ingredients, etc? It seems like an independent third party would have to assess this. The issue with assessment is that it is a business within itself. As someone mentioned before, the definition of "organic" and even "fair trade" varies among certifying groups. The core question would be: who would pay for the evaluation to be conducted and how can that be a sustainable model? I like the concept!

Photo of DeletedUser

DeletedUser

Not to throw a wrench into the equation, but could the Foodprint system also incorporate workplace ethics, quality of ingredients, etc? It seems like an independent third party would have to assess this. The issue with assessment is that it is a business within itself. As someone mentioned before, the definition of "organic" and even "fair trade" varies among certifying groups. The core question would be: who would pay for the evaluation to be conducted and how can that be a sustainable model? I like the concept!

Photo of DeletedUser

DeletedUser

Not to throw a wrench into the equation, but could the Foodprint system also incorporate workplace ethics, quality of ingredients, etc? It seems like an independent third party would have to assess this. The issue with assessment is that it is a business within itself. As someone mentioned before, the definition of "organic" and even "fair trade" varies among certifying groups. The core question would be: who would pay for the evaluation to be conducted and how can that be a sustainable model? I like the concept!

Photo of Arjan Tupan

Susan, I think you make an important point. I intended this concept to be more a signage add-on to other concepts. As for the inclusion of workplace ethics, ingredient quality, production processes etcetera, I think it would be wise to look at the GoodGuide. Also in terms of business model and independency guarantee. Have a look at the about section, where you can also have a glimpse of their business model to see how they tackle the issue of being a sustainable company in terms of financials: http://www.goodguide.com/about
As said before, I think that social enterprises could be a better solution than governmental organisations. Both in terms of continuity as in terms of independent views.

Photo of Meena Kadri

Surfing's pretty big in Australia – and this reminds me of the Hang Ten brand http://www.hangten.com/Hangten.html which is inspired by the Hang Ten surfing maneuver http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hang_Ten Wonder if you could play on this pop-culture angle further for a edgy campaign? (without treading on the toes of the Hang Ten brand of course)

Photo of Arjan Tupan

Oh, the surfing angle is brilliant, Meena. There are probably some nice concepts out there connecting surfing to local food. Both are very in touch with the land/sea.

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DeletedUser

this idea is simple yet could be extremely effective. the play on words made me smile! it gets people in touch with where their food comes from starting at point A and ending at point H/M/Z so that they are more aware of the impact their choices are having on the community and environment. I'm a fan :)

Photo of Arjan Tupan

Thanks Sydney. Glad it made you smile. And I think the simplicity is indeed key.

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DeletedUser

haha. Love the play on words. It must've been one of those typos and errors that lead to a moment of pure genius! Love the concept! Very innovative and informative.

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DeletedUser

And by "lead" I meant "led" - I was just so excited to respond that I made my own type (no genius there, lol)

Photo of Arjan Tupan

Thanks, Clayton. Not sure about the genius. Especially since it still takes me several tries to type foodprint, eh footprint :)

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DeletedUser

Love the simple build - great collaboration!

Photo of Arjan Tupan

Thanks, Dara!

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DeletedUser

Great idea, Arjan. I like the simplified label and 'foodprint' is catchy and intuitive. I think labelling could be done as a tiered process. The big colourful label acts as an immediate filter. It would be great to support this label with more detailed information on the package, or in some other easily accessible way. I think it's important to have more information if we are going to educate ourselves about food production, transportation, etc. Web-based information is useful but it takes extra effort for a consumer to look up information about a food.

I would like to see labelling like this handled by an independent body, not by individual companies. Otherwise, we may end up with misleading labelling like the 'fat-free', 'low-fat', etc. labels. I know this conjures up more bureaucracy, but I want labels and information I can trust :)

Photo of Arjan Tupan

Thanks, Sarah, for your comment. You have an important point with the remark of having labels you can trust. I think something like the GoodGuide (see related inspirations) could be a great model. To improve consumer adoption and avoid bureaucracy, I personally prefer a social entrepreneur type of model to an independent body. These bodies are often also in risk of becoming politicized, either by governments/political parties, or lobby groups. Or have a tendency to be prone to tunnel vision.

Photo of Johan Löfström

Oh, no! Not you too? :) haha, only kidding. The typo is nice. it is so much fun to walk through a store and stumble upon a typo on the posters hanging over the veg's :)

if you imagine a online labeling, that I hope you are, I will repeat this mantra again, the consumer in the shop must be prompted with a question when he looks at a products Foodprint : "do you walk home, bicycle or take a car or bus?" and depending on this answer that the customer punches into the App the Foodprint changes colour gradually. If answer is walking or bicycling it slowly fades greener. If the answer is car, a followup-question from the App can be : "riding alone or sharing with someone?" for those riding alone in a car the Foodprint can start to burn with flames in vibrant dark red ? :D haha

If customers answers Bus, he could get follow-up-question : would you want to earn points on a Bus+Food-card? and then send them over to my concept ;)

Photo of Arjan Tupan

Haha, you are fanatic, aren't you? But great idea. As said, this is just a bit of a building block, and no so much a concept in itself. Mainly because there are already so many great concept out there. I just thought the combination of the term and the simple indicator could be helpful. So, feel free to blend it into your concept. I like the bus+food link, and was considering taking the car to do some grocery shopping this afternoon. But after you comment, I guess I'm going to have to walk :)

Photo of Johan Löfström

just remember to bring a comfortable bag that have good handles, (like the OpenPlanetIdeas jute-bag?) so you will not get sore hands carrying your groceries. Or a back-pack? :) happy easter!

Photo of Arjan Tupan

Hehe, I will. And they're reusable, too. I'm one of the few customers of our local supermarket who categorically refuses their plastic bags.