Posted by Luke Sammann
This past Thursday our group was finally able to present all of our work to the teachers and parents at Windward! We were extremely excited to do so because we had worked very hard on this project for a long time and it felt like a reward for everything that we had done. People seemed to all be very interested in our bags and happy that we were doing something creative to reduce plastic waste in our local community. We were also very nervous though because we knew that we were being graded on how well we were able to talk to the people and it felt like it was our entire project being graded on a very short forty five minutes and we were nervous that we might get a bad grade that may not affect the progress that we felt we made so we made sure that we prepared very well for the forum.
We were very careful to look over the rubric to ensure that we would not miss anything and we would meet every requirement. We also presented for Kevin beforehand and asked him what he thought of our presentation. He told us that he really like what we had to say about our problem and solution but he wanted to hear more about what we had learned throughout the process. We then made sure that we would be able to answer all possible questions about what we learned in the experience. I think this was the most important thing that we did because the teacher is the one grading us and it is important to listen to what he has to say.
At the forum we ended up presenting our poster, our produce bags and plastic bags that we could use to compare. I think our poster was very important because it displayed lots of information on what our project was to people who didn’t already know. It also showed a graph that we made on our data that we took from people which was very helpful for showing people the effects of our solution. I feel like this experience has taught me a lot about perseverance and learning to look deeper and try harder when something fails because in this case we failed at first but still ended up having a really good project!
Today we managed to give out our bags. After having spent two nights sewing I was able to provide my group with 39 bags. These bags were made of canvas. There were two sizes. These being tall and wide. While most wide bags were around 7.5 inches wide and 9 inches tall while the other was 7 inches wide and 10.5 inches tall. The bag’s shape was cut out and then folded in half unto itself. Then I sewed the sides, added the small bits of Velcro inside, and then turned that inside out which successfully created out bags. We decided to give these out at the Mar Vista farmers market. When we arrived we decided to ask one of the vendors if we could give out our product. We decided to approach a man running cabbage and Brussels stand. We promptly got rejected as he turned us down by saying that he was just too busy and that we should just maybe try a smaller stand. So we then tried the stand across from that one. This one was quite smaller than the first one but also sold an assortment of greens. We explained to the man how we were seventh graders from windward who were just wondering if we could hand out our bags at the stall. Luckily this man said yes and allowed our bags to be an options to customers who were buying produce that could fit in the bag.
Seeing as this stand was going well, we then decided to expand our reach. I grabbed some of the bags and asked the stand next to us if we could have our bags there as well. The vendor here was also very nice and she allowed us to hand out our bags there as well. We were steadily collecting data from having two stands When we decided that we could handle a third stand.
and so I went across to the two people running the apple stand. Once again we were allowed to give away our bags. We collected data quite efficiently because of the three stands and soon enough we were all out of bags. Happy with the amount of data that we collected, we called it a day. After looking over the data I found that the average amount of plastic bags used by customers is 4. Considering this we can make a rough estimate about how many plastic bags we can save if we were to make the right changes to make this an even better product. Starting out with 50 people and assuming they used 4 plastic bags each time they went to the market this means that 200 plastic bags would be used in one trip to the market. Assuming our bags could replace at least one of these plastic bags, then in a visit to the market in which only 3 bags are plastic, only 150 plastic bags would be used. Though this seems like a small number it’s quite a lot considering it only one bag each. Seeing this on a larger scale if 1000 people use 4 plastic bags they, in total, use 4000 bags. On the other hand if they only use three, they use only 3000 bags. Seeing as this is only with one bag one could imagine how much we could cut back on plastic waste if our product was good enough to be be able to be used for a variety of fruits and veggies. Though our bag was liked well enough, there were several areas were we and several customers saw room for improvement.
One of the most common pieces of feedback that we received was that it should be bigger. Many told us that it was a bit too small to fit most fruits and veggies. Another thing that many customers recommended was applying some sort of adhesive to the velcro so that it would stick better on the cloth. Something else that came up often was the want for a handle or something of that degree. We found this funny considering it hand been in our original design and had been something we fully intended to do but the idea ultimately became scrapped. All in all this day turned out quite well and I thought it was a very cool experience and think that this idea really could help reduce plastic waste. It was really cool to be able to get out there and interact with other people and be able to talk and get feedback on our product. I found it really cool to find out how big of an impact our product could make with the right changes.
-Posted by Kaylee
Posted by Luke
Challenges we’ve faced have set us back, but we will overcome. The past few days we’ve been struggling to continue our projects because of all the tests the universe has thrown at us. On Monday, we called Ralphs, a supermarket in the Pacific Palisades, about implementing our solution. Although they didn’t get back to us and we had to call multiple times. Then, we finally got someone on the phone, but we got transferred many times to many different people until we reached the store manager who told us he couldn’t talk to us because he said he was pressed on time due to a remodel. On Wednesday we decided that we wouldn’t stick with Ralphs after we heard of the renovation. So, we called Gelson’s, another market in the Palisades. We managed to get someone on the phone, but they asked to call us back from 3:30 to 6pm, but they failed to contacted us since. Saturday we tried once again to contact Gelson’s, but didn’t have great reception. In the meantime, we have done many things including: getting certified to use a sewing machine, blueprinting the bags to scale, and getting data about people’s opinions about which size bag they would use. As shown from our graph, not many people have given us feedback on each size. So, we’ve included a picture of the Medium and Large size bags along with the blue print. If you’ve got any thoughts please comment below, we could really use your opinions! Although we have had our setbacks, challenges, and struggles which have put us behind, we are ready to battle them out in a final showdown as we keep calm and carry on.
This past week has been quite a productive week for our group. On Monday we were able to get some feedback on our solution from multiple members of the faculty at our school. We were given many ideas from this feedback and have gained much from this experience. We learned that it would be hard to sell the bags at a school event as we had previously planned so we decided we would rather sell them at a farmers market. A concern was that the majority of people don’t even know that these bags already exist and a common question was that how are we gonna get the word out. We decided that we would advertise them while we are at the farmers market . We were also given the great idea of making bags that are different sizes in order to accommodate different types of produce. We plan on going through with this idea. But all in all our current solution ,with all the new feedback taken into consideration, is to create a reusable and washable canvas produce bags. We want to make sure that shoppers are saving plastic and money. So, we came up with this idea: We will stand outside the market to ask consumers what they thought about the bag they bought and tell/advertise the bags to people coming into the market. Then, we will record this data and, if necessary, talk to the market about the suggestions to increase customers satisfaction. We’ll be giving a free survey with specific questions to record data. Luke will be in charge of recording our data. Currently the market that we are looking towards implementing this at is at the Ralphs market in the pacific palisades.
We think that this solution will tackle a very important problem. When most think of plastic bags they think of takeout bags but no one ever think of the produce bags that we always reach for. No one ever takes those into consideration. But these bags are still plastic and are still hurting the environment but we simply skip over that fact. For some reason we’ve forgotten that these bags are just as harmful. That’s why we feel that this is a really important problem. Not only do we want to raise awareness to this problem while at the farmers market, we want to sell these reusable bags so that the customers can try them out. If the bags do work out we would be saving lots of plastic because though those bags are little, it adds up. If we give these out to at least 75 people, as we hope to do, that means that there our 75 people who instead of using plastic bags are using these bags every time they go to the market. Assuming one person uses around 5 plastic bags each time they go and they go 1 a week that means they use 20 in one month. 75 people doing this means that they use, in total, around 1,500 plastic bags in one month. This means that only 75 people use around 18,000 plastic bags a year. But if they were to use our bags which would last a while and have to replace around 4 times a year at most. With those odds that means that 75 people who have 5 bags who would then replace them, at most, 4 times a year would use only 1,500 reusable bags. This is a 16,500 difference in bags used. This just shows how useful our product would be. It would cut back the plastic usage by quite a lot. Of course these odds aren’t facts or proven exactly, so to get data we will also ask people while we are there approximately how many plastic produce bags they use whenever they go to the market and how many times they go to the farmers market within a month. This would just be to get baseline data to see just how much plastic is being used. We would also give them a survey ,as stated before, to ask the questions about our bags. We hope to hear that the bags are easy to use and work just as well as th plastic bags. But we won't know until we try. Hopefully by the time we write our next blog post we will have at least started to implement our solution. So until then, See ya! Remember to contact us if you have any questions.
-Posted by Kaylee
Posted by: Sarah Morrison
Over the last week, our group has made a huge amount of progress and has had many shifts in our overall direction. After a long debate we have finally finalized our problem. So, while we were thinking constantly about supermarkets, we had an epiphany. Our problem is that plastic produce shopping bags that are free when getting produce at the market are hurting the environment. We came to this because our problem that we had before with food being wasted in supermarkets, we had a hard time narrowing down the problem into something that we could realistically find a solution for. We knew that something that we looked at for a long time was how most plastic shopping bags are actually biodegradable but the recycling plants don’t have the technology to degrade them so they get sent back into the landfill. This was a big problem, but we again decided that there was nowhere that we could realistically take this. We ended up deciding that our new problem was more realistic to try and solve as we were hitting a dead end in our last problem. Ultimately, we learned that having a narrow problem would be more successful in the future.
Now it is time to find and finalize a solution before we can help the world. Our group did research on different things already being done to help solve this problem. One thing that we didn’t find, that we came up with, was to create bins that would degrade plastic produce shopping bags. So, with excitement, our group looked into that idea. The results weren’t as exciting though. We found that it take three to six month for a plastic bag to fully degrade. Then, our group found a type of caterpillar that eats plastic. While this was exciting, we knew that this caterpillar only rips plastic. It doesn’t eat it and then poop it out. So, we collectively decided that we needed to go to the other front end of the problem because trying to find a solution to wasted plastic sitting around wasn’t working out. The front end is stopping plastic waste before it can actually be wasted. Now, we know that we cannot stop plastic waste worldwide, let alone all of Los Angeles, but we do know that we will make a difference in one community. Everyone uses plastic a lot! I got a lot from my research on “Biodegradable Plastic Bags” from www.goodstartpackaging.com and http://link.galegroup.com/apps/doc/VXTERI809575597/SUIC?u=lapl&sid=SUIC&xid=cb8bd10b. We learned that plastic bags and grocery bags are in such big supply and everyone is using them as everyone buys groceries that there is a huge amount of waste being produced. We thought about how some markets have plastic shopping bags, some have paper, but the produce bags are always plastic and we decided that we could possibly find a way for markets to hand out reusable bags for their produce so that we can cut down on the amount of plastic being used and thrown away. Our idea is to create some sort of reusable produce bag, but we haven’t worked out all the details yet. Our group is thinking about three different materials to make the reusable bags out of, either burlap, fishnet, or canvass. We still need to do more research about things that already exist and dive further into this. Down below we have included a picture of something we are aiming to create. If you have any questions, comments, or concerns please contact us!
Posted by: Sarah Morrison
This is our second week doing CBL and it is coming along great! So far we have narrowed our problem and reached out to experts. Last week we decided that food waste would be the problem we were focusing on, but this week we got to this narrowed problem: So much edible, “ugly” produce is wasted when it hasn’t expired yet in supermarkets while millions are hungry. For research proposes, we want you to write a quick comment about what you think! Moreover, the communities affected by food waste are homeless and low income people as well as supermarkets/grocery stores. Homeless have very little to no food, so when it is wasted, it is even more devastating. Homeless also can't afford food, so if supermarkets donate the food instead of wasting it, they can eat. Supermarkets are affected because they are the ones who are throwing out the food and losing money! The reason we have decided to dive deeper into this problem is because we are very intrigued by all that we have learned. So, we have contacted experts in the field. We contacted Fredric Kimmel who is an accountant and is personally related to Sarah. Then we contacted Allison Griffith who is the EHW Program Coordinator in Westside Food Bank. We asked them many questions including these for Ms. Griffith:
What is the most important problem related to food waste that you believe needs to be solved?
Are there any organizations or supermarkets donating produce to you? If so, could you direct us towards them?
What, if any, problems do you encounter with receiving donations of fresh produce? How do you think such problems could be best addressed?
Which areas or shelters are most in need of food?
And these for Mr. Kimmel:
If the supermarkets donate food or produce past the sell by date to homeless shelters, would they be able to get the value of that food exempt from their taxes?
If not, could the supermarkets donate food or produce before the sell by date to homeless shelters, and be able to get the value of that food exempt from their taxes?
Because of your experience, do you think an exemption from the supermarket’s taxes is a beneficial motivation?
Is it common for supermarkets to reach their maximum exemption rate, if there is a maximum? Is there a tax reason, or another reason, supermarkets aren’t donating produce already?
Although neither have responded to us yet, we are excited to hear your responses when you comment! Feel free to let us know anything or answer any of the questions we have stated! What do you think, can we conquer edible, “ugly” produce waste and help feed the homeless?
Posted by: Sarah Morrison
Welcome to our blog! Here we will document our challenging journey of tackling food waste in California. We are so excited to start this new project! What really interested us about food waste was the massive amount that there is. It saddened us to find that the entire world as a whole, wastes around about 2.9 trillion pounds of food a year. With 800 million people going hungry and starving, this number seems unacceptable. Just thinking about all the hard work farmers put into creating wonderful food for us to eat, but having to throw it away because it doesn't look perfect. This completely shocked us! It was shocking how such small imperfections could somehow justify the wastefulness that happens. It just shows how humans, for some reason, must always want perfection despite the costs. We want to combat this and find a way to reduce the food waste in Los Angeles. We do not yet have a certain subtopic on food waste we want to focus on yet, but we have mapped out our ideas. In our map, we wrote down facts, but also questions too. Our mind map is in the photo gallery if you want to check it out. We can’t wait to continue with the process!