A Life Changing Innovation From a Kid

Every two years,a  life changing innovation in design are honored at the Index: Awards, the biggest of its kind in the world. FreshPaper, a simple piece of paper designed to extend the shelf life of fresh foods, was among the 2013 winners announced August 29, in Elsinore, Denmark.

innovation from a kid fresh paper

Kavita Shukla, age 17 at the time, happened upon the idea accidentally. While visiting her grandmother in India, Shukla absent-mindedly drank tap water which is ill-advised in India. Her grandmother warded off pending illness with spices steeped in water. Interested in the power of these spices, Shukla began her investigation.

A Life Changing Innovation

What she found was that some spices–like fenugreek–can inhibit bacterial and fungal growth. This knowledge eventually became FreshPaper, a piece of paper infused with organic spices, including fenugreek, which slows the growth of decaying elements and therefore extends life. The design keeps fruits and vegetables fresher longer. Shukla received a patent for the new invention, which is now available in stores across the U.S. including Whole Foods and Wegmans.

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The idea is enough to be impressive, but the spirit of innovation as a means to creatively solve globally significant problems is where it becomes a real standout. Perplexed by the statistic that 50% of the world's food supply is wasted, Shukla, along with medical doctor Swaroop Samant, founded Fenugreen, a social enterprise endeavoring to distribute FreshPaper to developing countries. Fenugreen operates with the idea that the world's food supply may be increased simply by decreasing its waste.

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While many have tried to answer the question of world hunger with how to increase food production, Shukla assumed a different angle – reduce the amount of food wasted. She was able to take ordinary and accessible elements – spices in her grandmother's kitchen–and re-purpose them. Curiosity and examination along with the inspiration to look at an old problem in a different way led to a relatively simple and sustainable means to make a critical global impact.

What other old problems might we solve just by adjusting our vantage point?

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