“Develop a tool/product to change the behavior around food consumption or food disposal in households of the Vietnamese middle-class, encouraging a more sustainable lifestyle.”
I’ve designed the ‘Bottle Garden’ toolkit as one of the first (baby) steps towards sustainable food consumption in the GetGreen Vietnam project. The kit empowers young mothers in Vietnamese middle-class households to start growing safe vegetables for their baby at home.
The toolkit emphasizes the importance of consuming safe/organic produced vegetables. It creates awareness among family members and can be an educational activity for the parents and their child. The toolkit consists of a toolbox (starter kit for growing safe water spinach) and an online community platform.100 ‘Bottle Garden’ toolboxes have been produced and handed out to participants of the GetGreen Vietnam movement. Unfortunately the online platform could not be established due to privacy regulations.
Background / research
Vietnam has developed very fast over the past decades and is growing both in population and economic power rapidly. Especially the march of a middle-class is pushing the consumerism to a higher level; people have more money to spend on for example luxury items and food. Sustainability is however still an unknown concept among the majority of Vietnamese consumers.
Elaborate contextual research, conducted during a three month stay in Hanoi, was used to identify problematic behaviour wihin the area of food consumption.
The topic of ‘food safety’ (often linked to the term ‘sustainability’) grabs everyone’s attention in Vietnam. It is and has been a major problem, leaving consumers in despair. Especially young mothers are concerned about the health of their children and family. Although the government tries to improve the production of safe and organic vegetables with laws and regulations, a trustful system has not yet been established.
The vast majority of the consumers still buy conventional vegetables that are produced with the use of chemical pesticides and fertilizers. Especially the intake of pesticide residues by young babies during their first two years can have a negative impact on the development of the baby’s brain and immune system. It became the fundament for further development of the toolkit that creates awareness of sustainable food consumption among Vietnamese households.Why I think this is a cool project?
- it addressed a complex problem (food safety) within a complex theme (sustainable food consumption) in a complex foreign society (Vietnam).
- I worked pleasantly together with people from different cultures
- I was responsible for the whole project cycle, from problem definition to end product.
- it asked for a lot of flexibility in planning and adaptation to the difference in culture.