My non-profit poster is connected to the “Love Food Hate Waste” initiative that is turn connected to Kai Rescue run out of the Nelson Environment Centre.
I have been doing some initial research on food waste in New Zealand and have discovered some (to me) quite horrifying facts about food waste – not only in the waste of resources of money and produce that could be diverted to people’s bank accounts – or those in need of food to feed their families – but also the negative environmental impacts by greenhouse gas emissions from food waste in landfill. I have also learned that Gen Y and Gen Z (20 – 40 year olds) between them are responsible for about 28% of the food waste in NZ.
This has informed my approach to the copy I am considering for my poster. Phrases such as “Waste Not Want Not” have been around since the late 1700s, and I’ve thought about taking a retro /vintage approach to the poster. I have also considered using a play on a famous American television series, “America’s Most Wanted” but changed to “New Zealand’s Most Wasted” to highlight the worst offenders for food waste (fruit and vegetables 66%, and bread 25%). I quite like the idea of putting the power in the hands of the people and offering an approach and a positive – such as “Fight Food Waste – make a meal of your leftovers – the planet will love you for it”, or the more direct: “Land Fill or Tummy Fill – make the right call”. All these options suggest a different approach and I think I will be focusing on an informative/activating approach to include some of the more outstanding statistics I have found. My goal is to communicate the problem of food waste, and the options available to combat the problem, as effectively as I can.
It is hard to accept that anything other than moving as quickly as possible towards a sustainable way of working and living is an option for any person today. It follows that any role in a community – including design – should have sustainability at its core. There is, however, the reality that much of the current design work being done, particularly graphic design, is to encourage consumption of one kind or another, so there is an in-built conflict in working for companies that rely on continuous consumption for their existence.
But there are often viable options for approaches to design projects that can minimise an impact on the environment. For example, print projects can utilise unbleached or recycled paper, plant-based inks, and/or constructed in a way that minimise waste in raw materials or extend their use. I believe designers have an important role to play in this regard, encouraging businesses and organisations who use their services to consider what can be done to maximise sustainable practices wherever possible. Digital design can offer alternatives to print but require inputs, such as use of technologies that contribute to energy consumption and electronic waste, that need to be considered. Designers, such as David B Berman in Do Good Design and Peter Claver Fine in Sustainable Graphic Design: Principles and Practices, highlight the (sometimes) hard decisions faced by businesses and give examples of design projects concerned with environmental and social justice concerns. They also offer guidelines for designers to consider when approaching a given project, as well as projects to initiate or look out for in their own design and local communities.
In a heartfelt TEDx presentation, designer JD Hooge says it is time for designers – of digital technology in particular – but appropriate I think for all designers – to take responsibility for the things they create and their impact on human lives. Hooge speaks about the idea of “purpose in design” and of his career path and determination to become a better designer through creation and “having a point of view”, with the realization that graphic design gives people identity, and has the power to create conversations and spread ideas. He also raises concerns about the influence of digital technology and the design elements embedded within it. Identifying this as both a privilege and a burden for web, product, and graphic designers he advises designers to get out of their comfort zone and become more comprehensively educated. Hooge believes seeing different perspectives, including learning from the past, is incredibly important for designers of the future – with existing tools of data, awareness and hindsight – it’s time to leverage those resources and put humanity back at the centre of design.
And while many companies appear to buy into the sustainable message, designers have a role to play in ensuring that these claims are more than hype, and that they support the hope for a more transparent, robust approach to a sustainable existence.