More than half of the produce grown in the U.S. ends up in the trash–an even bigger percentage than other types of food waste. To help save some of the half-eaten onions and tomatoes that get forgotten at the back of the fridge, two designers decided to create storage containers that could make food last longer than the usual plastic container or bag.
“The eureka moment was when we realized that fruits and vegetables come with their own protective covers–their skins,” say designers Adrienne McNicholas and Michelle Ivankovic. “The most targeted solution to the problem of keeping them as fresh as possible was to address the area where the skin had been cut away, and to develop ideas for how we could replace the missing protective skin.”
Their design, called Food Huggers, acts basically like a lid for cut vegetables and fruit; a simple silicone disc stretches and molds itself around the end of the food to create an airtight seal. “The opening adjusts itself to match the size of the food,” McNicholas and Ivankovic explain. “This avoids the pretty much impossible challenge of guessing in advance what size tomato or onion a customer will have.”
The designers were careful to create something they felt could have true value, rather than just adding yet another kitchen product to the marketplace. “In principle and in our personal practices, we avoid gadgets and tools that have a single use or that could be done just as well with existing basic kitchen tools,” they say. The Food Huggers replace disposable products like tin foil and cling wrap, and by helping tackle the problem of food waste, the small silicone discs can help start to offset some of millions of gallons of fuel used to grow and transport wasted produce each year.
“By helping people manage their fresh foods, less food is tossed in the garbage after having been farmed, transported, and sold without ever feeding anyone,” they say. “That is a waste we can’t stand to see.”
Development of the product was successfully funded on Kickstarter last year, and the designers are currently working on bringing it to store shelves.