Catalyst Conference – About Food Waste


8.7 Catalyst Conference Conference Steps to Develop

The Problem:

  • I’ve noticed that during lunch at school, people always throw plates of unfinished food away (sometimes even entirely untouched plates). It got me wondering how much food is wasted on a much larger scale, and after researching, I’ve found that the environmental consequences of food waste is a huge problem.

User Needs:

  • I hope to raise awareness for the food waste problem and help others be mindful of their consumption when picking out foods to eat, either at a cafeteria or at a restaurant or in the grocery store. The users also need to be educated about the benefits of buying organic or locally sourced produce because that helps the environment.

Research and Citations:

  • Globally, a third of all food produced in the world is lost or wasted, costing an estimated $940 billion per year (2016)
  • estimated that 40 to 50 percent of all food produced in the United States—or about 35 million tons of food—is wasted at some point in the food system
  • 31 percent of the total food waste (equaling about 1,249 calories per capita per day) results from post-harvest waste—during processing and distribution, and in the home
  • Greenhouse gases are also produced from transporting fruits to distribution centers → bad for the atmosphere
  • additional 31 percent of the total trash in municipal waste dumps is generated by packaging-related materials
  • According to a study conducted in 2013 by Harvard’s Food Law and Policy Clinic and the Natural Resources Defense Council, 91 percent of consumers threw out food based on the “sell by” date out of a mistaken concern for food safety. This costs households an estimated $275–$455 per year on food needlessly discarded. to an external site.

  • United States Department of Agriculture found that American consumers waste about one pound of food per day, or 225-290 pounds per year.
  • Concurrent to staggering statistics being reported about high levels of food waste, many globally do not have access to enough food. The United Nations’ FAOLinks to an external site. reports that approximately 800 million people are considered chronically hungry.
  • Food waste accounts for 19%Links to an external site. of landfill waste, which directly contributes to the production of greenhouse gases. to an external site.

  • Ways to Reduce Overbuying
    • Keep a running list of meals and their ingredients that your household already enjoys. That way, you can easily choose, shop for and prepare meals.
    • Plan your meals for the week before you go shopping and buy only the things needed for those meals.
    • Include quantities on your shopping list noting how many meals you’ll make with each item to avoid overbuying.
    • Look in your refrigerator and cupboards first to avoid buying food you already have, make a list each week of what needs to be used up and plan upcoming meals around it.
  • Storage Tips
    • Fruit should be stored in the refrigerator (can last 1-2 weeks), you should wait to wash fruit until you want to eat them to prevent mold.
    • Learning the difference between “sell-by,” “use-by,” “best-by,” and expiration dates will help people get the most out of their food
  • If the food ends up being wasted, instead of throwing it away, you can:
    • compost food scraps
    • Nutritious, safe, and untouched food can be donated to food banks to help those in need. to an external site.


  • I hope to create an infographic with the purpose of encouraging others to minimize food waste and make smarter buying decisions at grocery stores
    • also educating people about the harmful effects of carelessly wasting produce, where their trash goes to, and how they can minimize environmental impact on a smaller/daily level

Alternatives: (other options for your design, include at least one other option)

  • flowchart? teaching how to recycle food and buy or following smart food decisions

9.6 Catalyst Conference

Additional Research

(Interview with my classmate from environmental science class: Aryana Far, Grade 12)

Can you give me your first thoughts when you hear the word “food waste” or “compost?” What are your thoughts on it?

“I think it’s common knowledge that compost is not as effective as it seems and when people dispose of their food waste they never put it in the right contanter. It’s good to be conscientious of the different things we put in trash bins, and I don’t think people take the time to read the labels. The word compostable is kind of a buzzword now and it’s being used when it shouldn’t be used. It’s kind of vague because people often don’t know what it means.”

In my research, I found that, globally, a third of all food produced in the world is lost or wasted, costing an estimated $940 billion per year. What do you think about that statistic? Do you think we can do anything to conserve the waste?

I always felt that it was a problem but now that I’ve heard that it makes it all real to me. We already have a wet/dry system at school, and I think we can collect all the extra plastic wrap to recycle. I think it would be a good idea to have more clarification on what can be compostable and what can’t be.

Is there any action that can be taken in schools to help educate students on their environmental footprint?

I think environmental science should be a required course in schools because it will bring young individuals in our generation together. We can start making changes on a larger scale (an entire generation would be educated).

If you were to see a campaign or poster trying to, what would you like to see as an audience member?

I would like to see something thought provoking, and something that makes people think about their own daily practices. Something that will stir emotions.

Answer the following questions in your ePortfolio:

  1. The importance of the local issue is defined within the presentation.

I think the abundance of food waste is an important issue because it is so prevalent in every community. It’s also an issue because I don’t think many people even realize it’s happening, so it’s one of those silent killers.

  1.  A clear strategy for catalyzing change is identifiable.

Because a majority of people might not realize the extent of their waste, I will start by trying to raise awareness for this problem and drawing attention to the statistics in my research. In my presentation, I will lay out a plan for my infographic by coming up with the specific user needs I want to address, and how to design in order to communicate my message.

  1. Presentations demonstrate the anticipation that visitors may have limited background knowledge on their topic.

I know there will be people with a lot of different background knowledge on this topic, so I will try to make my research easy to comprehend for all levels. Even if I find information from an expert source, I will make sure to summarize and make the points clear.

Layout Sketches:

For my poster ideas, I tried coming up with a creative way to catch the audience’s attention. I started with a big headline (like an interesting statistic) that would draw a person in, then added information about how to be more environmentally conscious.


10.6 Catalyst Conference Part 3

Project Reflection:

Over the past few weeks I’ve enjoyed seeing the process of work that both I and other students have gone through for the Catalyst Conference. I think it’s great that for all of us, what started as a small idea, or question, became a much bigger project that we were all able to research and come up with designs for. At the beginning of this project I drew my issue from something small that I noticed happening every day in the school cafeteria, but through my research and interviews I found that food waste is a global issue. For the first 15 sketches of my designs, I wanted to come up with fun eye-catching infographics that could still communicate my issue. In my second round of sketching designs and implementing them into Adobe illustrator, I tried to combine some of those original sketches. For my final design, I think I’m actually just going to assemble all my different sketches into a large info graphic because that way, I can communicate a lot of information about my topic. however, one thing I need to keep in mind is that the information flows smoothly and the illustration is easy to follow.


Final Design Work

Catalyst Final Design.png

11.6 Aligning GOA competencies with your Catalyst Conference

Link to Reflection: to an external site.

Thank you for reading my catalyst conference! Please feel free to leave a comment or question!

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  1. May 01, 2019 by Nastya.Kovylina

    Hi! I have been noticing the same pattern in my school cafeteria, but have not realized how big that issue actually is until this presentation! Good job! It is very informing and inspirational!

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