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HOW CAN AN INTERACTIVE APP TRACK USER INPUT TO HELP PREVENT HOUSEHOLD FOOD WASTE?

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The following is a context scenario, featuring a day-in-the-life of a likely user.

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screen-shot-2015-05-03-at-9-47-56-pmThe persona is Katie, a young Stay at Home Mom who works remotely. Her goals are:
to prepare healthy meals for her family
to try out new recipes, using basic ingredients
and to teach her child the importance of sustainability

All of Katie’s goals are related with their mindfulness of food waste. Katie has an interest in using the app WasteLess so that she can make smarter shopping lists based on previous waste, and to have reminders in place for when food is about to expire.

Click through the screens to follow Katie’s journey.

PHASE ONE3

Since she has early mornings, Katie likes to plan her son’s breakfasts the night before. She appreciates the convenience of being able to know what’s in her fridge, using her phone, when she’s upstairs getting ready for bed. She sleeps soundly, knowing that there is enough food to last for the next day until she goes shopping later in the afternoon. When Katie wakes each morning, the first thing she does is go to the kitchen to feed her son. She quickly whips up some leftover broccoli, with the remaining grapes and some sliced apple on the side.  Feeling comfort in feeding the fresh food to her toddler and using up the leftovers, she happily marks down the items that were eaten and not thrown out.  Katie looks at her phone for ideas of what she wants to have for breakfast while sitting at the table as the child eats.

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Katie decides that a savory breakfast sounds appealing, and she knows she has all the ingredients for one of her favorites. Looking right in the fridge, she sees that there is fresh spinach and tofu that was bought a few days ago. She also comes across a moldy lemon, which she is not happy about having to throw away. She goes to her phone and sees that the lemon was bought a few weeks ago. She must’ve ignored the original notification to use it before it went bad, now she marks it off as thrown away. Not wanting to waste anything else, Katie makes a scramble using most of the tofu and spinach, with the remaining apple slices her son didn’t eat and a glass of milk on the side. Katie uses up the rest of the milk and apple so she pulls out her phone to mark that these items are no longer in the fridge.

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PHASE TWO3

After breakfast, she prepares a grocery list for the coming week. On the list, Katie sees that milk has already been added since it’s an item that is bought on each grocery store trip, as well as some other common items. When she adds zucchini to the list, she is alerted to only buy one this time since two were thrown out earlier that week. Katie takes this advice, as she remembers lecturing her husband about not eating the zucchini that he asked to have added to the previous shopping list.

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Her son is ready for a nap, so Katie takes him upstairs to place him in his crib. Katie gets a notification on her phone that the carrots are about to expire. Quickly, she thinks up a way to use these in a recipe for lunch. Knowing that she always has broth, spices, beans and pasta on hand Katie decides to make some pasta, carrot and bean soup. She makes a large pot so that there is enough leftover to have for dinner. Katie sends a quick message to her husband, who is at work, to let him know that dinner will be easy tonight.

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PHASE THREE3

After enjoying her meal and placing the leftover soup in the fridge, Katie knows that the toddler is awake. Seeing that dinner time will be in just a couple hours, she quickly dresses her son and pulls out the grocery list on her phone to give it one last glance over. She heads to the store. Since she always has her phone on hand, Katie is glad to not have to carry a separate list since there have been plenty of times where she left it at home.

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At the store, Katie receives a notification for new items from her husband. He must’ve received a notification that she was here at the grocery store. As she places items in the cart, Katie crosses them off the list on her phone. She isn’t able to find any peaches or nectarines because they must not be in-season yet. However she sees some pineapple that was not on the original list. Wondering if she already has a pineapple at home, Katie uses her phone to see that pineapple was bought on her last shopping trip and is currently in the fridge at home. She leaves the pineapple out of her cart with a sigh of relief, knowing that her family would never eat both of those pineapples before they expired.

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PHASE FOUR3

At checkout, Katie sees that all of the items in her cart have been checked off except for the couple of items the store didn’t carry. The cashier asks what kind of receipt she would like as Katie is paying. With her phone already out, the cashier is able to scan the information in the form of a digital receipt. This way, Katie is able to know exactly what she bought versus what was on the list. She doesn’t have to rely on memory alone to recall the impulse items she picked up. Katie is also able to track which foods will expire first based on their purchase date, including the items that are already in her fridge at home. Overall, Katie views this as a quick process, and she doesn’t worry about accidentally throwing her receipt away, leaving it somewhere, or wasting paper over time.

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When Katie comes home, she puts all the groceries away. Her phone gives her a notification that all the recently purchased items have been added. She likes the fact that it sorts the food by the purchase date, since she doesn’t get this information as quickly from looking in the actual refrigerator. She and her husband sit down to dinner to have the rest of the soup, and after it is all finished she crosses off the carrots that were used in the recipe from earlier. Katie goes to sleep at night feeling good that none of the food in the fridge had to be thrown out today. She is excited to prepare meals for the coming week with all the fresh produce and other items that are in the fridge.

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Going back to the user model, the WasteLess app has helped to make Katie’s process more efficient. She continues the cycle as time goes on, and throws out less each week because of the app’s reminders and recommendations. Katie is thankful for the app and the difference that it has made on her household. Katie’s context scenario is just one example of how this app will be used. To learn more about the research behind this project, check out my process book. If you’d like to learn more about WasteLess or have interest in turning it into a fully-functioning app, feel free to contact me here.