Project Info
Food Systems 2016
Project Overview

Approximately 1/3 of food bought by consumers in developed nations is thrown away into bins. This is a significant environmental problem – discarded food wastes the water and phosphorous involved in food production and food rotting in landfill produces damaging methane emissions. Many people don’t realize their waste is actually a rich resource teeming with life, capable of producing new food. Those living in apartments with no garden where they can compost and no organic collection service often feel unable to change their habits and make environmentally friendly decisions about their food waste. Quirmi addresses this problem by providing a systemic approach from the micro level of an individual in their apartment, to the macro-level development of infrastructure to support a sustainable, interconnected food and compost sharing system. Quirmi includes a compost unit that is sleek, easy-to-use and customizable to make it fun and engaging for children. Quirmi enables people to process their own food waste to support the growth of nutritious fresh food on their balconies,  connecting them through their daily practices to the natural recycling processes. By linking these individuals into a community of composters and gardeners, food waste can also be used to grow produce to be sold to restaurants, used in private homes and donated to food banks and shelters. Excess food can also be exchanged via community food swaps further strengthening the sustainability and resilience of local food systems. Quirmi is designed around the idea that nothing is waste in nature. The main inspirations for Quirmi are ecosystems and relationships of symbiosis, where sharing of energy and resources create mutual support (mutualism). At a process level, it mimics metabolisms and digestive systems of key recyclers in nature. We focused on the earthworm, due to its simplicity and key role in supporting decomposition. 

Team Members

Carlos Montana-Hoyos, Lisa Scharoun, Bethaney Turner, Tim Thomas

University of Canberra