Most of us try and do our part to live a more sustainable life these days. Whether that means regularly recycling, biking to work or bringing our own bags to the supermarket, there are a number of little things we can do throughout the day to lessen our impact on the environment. But one thing that virtually no one is doing a very good job of is reducing our food waste.
Between 30 and 40 percent of food in the U.S. is wasted every year, according to the USDA’s own estimates. That’s equal to more than 130 billion pounds of food which, uh, seems like an awful lot. This waste is a major contributor to climate change, as well as a tremendous waste of money for consumers.
A good chunk of that food is wasted due to spoilage. I can’t tell you how many times I bought some fresh produce at the grocery store only to have it turn mushy and moldy after two days in the fridge. After that, it goes into the trash, because I don’t live in a space where composting is realistic.
But now, an innovative gadget on Kickstarter is looking to reduce food waste by making your food last longer.
The gadget is called Shelfy, and it’s produced by a company called Vitesy. The brand is known for its air purifiers — including a nifty one that works in conjunction with a potted plant — and Shelfy marks their fourth successful Kickstarter project. The device, which is roughly the size of your hand, sits in your refrigerator and acts as a mini air purifier. Shelfy filters out the bacteria and fungi that cause your food to spoil by driving them through a photocatalytic filter.
This technology uses LED lights to activate nanomaterials (in this case, tungsten trioxide) on a ceramic filter. Once activated, the nanomaterials react with moisture in the air to create free radicals, which then attack and destroy other chemicals and pollutants in the air.
While it sounds like science fiction, the science behind the technology is sound, and Vitesy claims Shelfy eliminates 80 percent of odors and chemicals in your fridge while also reducing the number of fungi and bacteria by tenfold. In real terms, this translates into food lasting up to 12 days longer with Shelfy activated compared to a Shelfy-less fridge.
The battery in Shelfy lasts for about a month and charges in two hours via a USB-C cable. The nanomaterial-coated ceramic doesn’t require regular replacement, just occasional rinsing under running water, since it doesn’t trap any materials, and it’s designed to last for five years. Shelfy has three modes of intensity — Eco, Standard and Boost — which can be adjusted via Vitesy’s app or through virtual assistants Alexa and Google Home.
If Shelfy does what it claims, it could make a huge difference by reducing food waste in kitchens all over the world. You can find out for yourself by ordering your own Shelfy on Kickstarter, but act fast: the campaign, which destroyed its funding goal, ends November 15.