Team Members:
Andrea Burgueño
Cameron Hanson
Christian Smirnow

The New Challenge Fellowship

Participatory Design
New York, NY (2015-17)

How can design be an exercise of activism?


GoodFill makes unwanted - yet still edible - food accessible on the streets of New York City.

The collection bags, which still function within the existing NYC waste-management system, create opportunities for sharing "second-generation food" before it becomes landfill waste.


A tangible systems-view of NYC's food distribution systems

GoodFill is a participatory design intervention that was created to combat the 1.3 tons of annual food waste in NYC through a grassroots approach. The bags, which are biodegradable and glow-in-the-dark, are designed for individuals and businesses to redistribute still-edible food across NYC, alleviate hunger, and prevent landfill waste.

The process of this concept began by mapping the existing system of public waste management and the food supply infrastructures in NYC which revealed limited access, tight policies, and inefficient processes. The project was also inspired by insights collected from a midnight tour with a local Freegan Movement group to explore what happens to discarded food from restaurants and grocery stores.

New York City sends 4 million tons of waste to landfills every year. About 1/3 of that is food waste.
— NYC.gov

The research inspired the creation of GoodFill as an alternative intervention that could exist within NYC’s existing waste infrastructure while also prompting critical dialogue about food waste, hunger, equity, and sustainability.

This grassroots and strategic intervention was developed to exist on a local scale across every neighborhood in NYC, yet allows the larger and existing sanitation & food-supply networks to be more flexible, connected, and elastic through a larger distribution system.

The GoodFill bags leverage the familiar use of garbage bags, and alters its use through innovative branding and labeling. The printing technique of glow-in-the-dark pigment on transparent materials is conventional and doable in the printing industry.

The initial prototypes of these bags were well received by Breads Café and Whole Foods, indicating that local businesses and chain retailers would be receptive to this low-cost behavior change to reducing food waste.

Overall, GoodFill embodies the triple-bottom-line approach towards social, economic, and ecological sustainability within New York City.

This project was selected as a 2016 New Challenge Fellowship Winner and has been featured at the United Nations, New York Social Innovation Week, and various media outlets such as CoolHunterMX.

More than 1.3 million New York City residents, or 14.9%, are food insecure. New York City’s food insecurity rate is 11% higher than the national rate, and 18% higher than the New York State rate.
— Foodbanknyc.org