- Maddison Ryder
Lettuce Eat explores food waste and throw away culture through a series of plates developed and designed from dehydrated lettuce. The pieces act not to discourage an impermanent sense of consumption, but rather, encourage consumption of 100 percent sustainable and natural single use objects, while removing the need for plastic alternatives.
41% of food waste within Melbourne is due to the consumer directly (Sheridan, Carey & Candy, 2016) and of these wasters, high income households produce the most food waste (Hamilton, Denniss & Baker, 2005). Therefore, the piece must be a desirable, high-quality material and design to suit this demographic. Through use of the plates, consumers are educated on the materiality of the product, which highlights the value of food waste materials in an attempt to alter perceptions on waste. Installing value within these wasted materials, the project acts as a catalyst to reduce food waste in the first place.
The pieces have exceeded the brief to alter perceptions of waste, and have also addressed the following:
1. Reduces food waste directly by utilising waste lettuce from supermarkets as a resource material
2. Provides a sustainable alternative to single-use plastic, paper and some biodegradable/compostable products
3. Provides additional income for farmers through the sale of wasted produce
4. By utilising food waste, no additional land and energy is needed for the products raw resource
5. No additional water is used in the production of Lettuce Eat products, as the water from the lettuce leaves is utilised
8. 100% compostable
In addition to the sustainable aspects of Lettuce Eat, the abundance of lettuce waste material makes this product a viable business proposition. Australia wastes an estimated 4,474 tonnes of lettuce waste annually from only major supermarkets Woolworths, Coles, Aldi and IGA. This waste would generate over 1 million lettuce plates. Further development will allow other food waste materials to be utilised, thus having an exponentially larger impact on reducing food sent to landfill. By replacing single-use plastic and paper with Lettuce Eat products, it will act to reduce deforestation for paper production and reduce the number of permanent plastics.
Lettuce Eat is an aesthetic product with an important message. Crafted only from waste lettuce the products are completely compostable to ensure a closed looped system. Lettuce Eat is also a truly sustainable alternative to paper, plastic and some bio-plastic single-use products as there is no confusion come disposal. The lettuce material is coated with a mix of bees wax and linseed oil for water resistance, but breaks down in 20 minutes when submerged into water which supports the life of a single-use product. This element ensures a completely closed loop system and doesn\’t act to \’greenwash\’ its market.