FRESHPAPER, INDEX: AWARD 2013 FINALIST.Up to 50% of the world’s food supply is lost to spoilage. This enormous, yet often overlooked, global challenge is addressed with a simple innovation; FreshPaper. Developed by Fenugreen, FreshPaper can keep fruits and vegetables fresh for 2-4 times longer. This biodegradable, compostable and recyclable piece of paper has the potential to change how the world keeps its food fresh.
Everyone knows all too well the frustrating feeling of finding strawberries, mushrooms or other perishable produce covered in a delicate cotton-like coat of mold. By that point, the only thing to do is to discard said produce, and although this may seem like an innocent everyday inconvenience, its consequences are monumentally vast. According to a study conducted by The Swedish Institute for Food and Biotechnology (upon request from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations), roughly one-third of food produced for human consumption is lost or wasted globally, amounting to a staggering 1.3 billion tons (and $450 billion in losses) annually - this includes the aforementioned batch of strawberries gone bad.
Inevitably, the waste extends far beyond the food itself and into most resources that come to mind. The likes of land, water and energy having gone into the production of anything one can come across inside of the average refrigerator, all in vain. Even greenhouse gas emissions aside, which, by the way, also take their fair share of the squander, such waste imposed by the biological clocks of the products, is quite shameful in the context of global food shortages and starvation.
Kavita Shukla, a young inventor and designer happened to come across an old recipe after accidentally drinking some tap water while visiting her grandmother in India. Her grandma gave her a home remedy – a mixture of spices, which kept her from getting sick. After years of research and development, (starting with a middle school science project), Kavita discovered a new application of her grandmother’s generations-old home remedy - a remarkably effective way to keep food fresh called FreshPaper.
Produced by Shukla’s company, Fenugreen, FreshPaper is a simple sheet of paper infused with organic spices; amongst others – fenugreek, which inspired the company’s name. This ingeniously simple idea has the properties to keep fruits and vegetables fresh two to four times longer without spoil! As it turns out, Kavita’s grandmother’s recipe inhibits bacterial and fungal growth, along with degradative enzymes. As for usage, FreshPaper only needs to be placed wherever the produce, which it is to protect, is stored. The design is a remarkable way of re-thinking, re-purposing and re-combining an old tradition with industrial knowledge into an easy-to-use everyday consumer product for everyone.
Shukla’s solution addresses one of the world’s most pressing challenges – one that leaves not a single part of the globe unaffected. As well as being incredibly simple, FreshPaper is also affordable, imposing no restrictions in terms of the users’ wallets or skills. Fenugreen, making good on their motto “fresh for all”, also, pledges to match every purchased pack of FreshPaper with another donated to a food shelter. Not only this, but the solution is also intended for users in the developing world, where refrigeration is a luxury, thus making a great attempt at providing food security to those who need it most. Now, imagine if it was used in supermarkets and packaging!