Challenges

Consumer education on organic waste separation

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Education of the consumers towards understanding the various possibilities that can come out of organic waste separation and collection is crucial towards an economy where organic waste is no longer wasted, but looked upon equally as paper and plastic separation.

I conducted a social experiment amongst my friends and family while I was researching into how to collect certain organic food wastes from consumers, often referred to as kitchen waste. I was in the middle of developing textiles dyes out of food by-products, but it was difficult to produce myself enough peels and seeds for dyeing, so I decided to see if I could outsource it from them. I required only pomegranate peels, avocado peels and seeds at that time.

Surely there were iterations and trial and error of trying to save these ingredients but here are the top insights I have learnt how you gradually shift with just this small educational experience their mindsets towards long-term organic waste separation:

1. Organic waste is not just one entity that will mostly likely be composted; it consists of multiple types of wastes too.

2. Explaining and showing dyed samples or pictures was an instant success that there is value in peels, they are not side products of consumption. Positive outcomes sink into your memory.

3. Provide tackle experience by making a participatory workshop on kitchen waste dyeing or DIY tutorials/videos.

4. Once they are engaged to separate their waste verbal explanation is not enough how to prepare the peels so that they could dry out without rotting. A quick visual demonstration or just a before and after image was more preferred. The point is for them to be excited about doing the separation to make it become a norm in their lifestyle for the future.

5. Reinforcement of gratitude for their food by-product contribution either verbally or something tactile is crucial. Balance out the give and receive scales.

5+ The most interesting surprise of all was that once my circle of friends and family realized the value in these peels they became self-motivated even after my project ended. They started saving these materials for me and could no longer throw them away in the bin because they knew I would bring good use to them as dyes.

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