Sustainer is a reminder-based mobile app paired with a re-usable food container aimed to help reduce waste caused by disposable to-go food containers. The app and container are designed together as a cohesive system that addresses the main barriers to people bringing a reusable container with them when getting food to go which are forgetting the container, leakage, and carrying space.
The physicality of the container addresses the second and third barriers of leakage and awkwardness. The container is made of food-grade silicon and features a fold-top design creating a perfect hermetic seal; influenced heavily by roll top kayak bags. The Silicon allows for extreme flexibility making transportation and washing extremely easy.
The app works by prompting the user when a person enters a particular restaurant. They then interact with the app by choosing one of three options and swiping down. Those options are: If they have brought their Sustainer, if they have decided to eat in, or if they forgot their Sustainer in which case they can be reminded to pack it when they arrive either at home or work. This is a pleasing interaction in which the user not only keeps track of their sustainability but also has the option to announce their progress through Facebook and Twitter. The app also includes a map element as well as a profile page where the user can view all their statistics pertaining to their container usage.
As an interdisciplinary design team we wanted to push the relationship the digital app had with the container as far as possible. We challenge the notion of literal smart technology, and develop the link through a visual and tactile relationship instead. The approach made the physical features and movements of the container be directly mirrored in the interactions of the app. This way the app and container became linked via their use and experience, not through an embedded chip.