We wanted to create a project to help promote a circular economy and benefit local communities.

We realised the biggest impact on our current shopping lifestyle is the carbon footprint from importing goods and the packaging used in supermarkets from mass production.

We also realised that one of the biggest impacts of Covid has been on the hospitality industry. As a result, we wanted to create a project that catered to helping this industry and economy recover.

What it does

Re:Fresh is a platform that encourages communities to shop locally, and remain environmentally conscious. With our web platform, both individual households and hospitality businesses can connect with the farmers in their local area to buy produce from them directly which will be delivered to their nearest local independent grocery store. We will provide this delivery service, which will consist of a small network of local drivers and storage/order assembly points, rather than the large scale distribution and long supply chains typical of chain supermarkets which have disastrous consequences for the environment.

As a first-time customer, you will pay a small deposit to receive your goods in a reusable, sustainably sourced Re:Fresh container. When your order is ready you will collect your goods in the container from your nearest local independent grocery store, and will reuse this container to collect your food waste, which you will then return as you pick up your next order. This waste will be used by local farmers to make compost and the box will be cleaned, ready for the next delivery. This is another thing that sets us apart from competing delivery services: instead of giving our customers cardboard boxes that will either be binned or require resources to recycle, we are re-using them. Customers can choose to buy crops already harvested, or order crops before they are harvested, which may be beneficial if they are a business and need to place large bulk orders ahead of time.

How we built it

We used React and Material UI to design and build our web app.

Challenges we ran into

As this was our first time using react, was a learning curve to get used to Javascript and CSS.

Accomplishments that we're proud of

We are proud of the idea as we think it has great commercial potential to be an alternative to the way we shop. We are also pleased with the overall look of our platform.

What we learned

Front end development skills and also how to manage our time efficiently whilst working remotely.

What's next for Re:Fresh

It’s to make the app as efficient as possible. We would use data science to record data of consumer purchases so the farmers can adapt their next harvest to match the demands of their consumers. In turn, this will hopefully do its small part to help reduce the environmental impact of global food waste. Furthermore, this should offer farmers more financial security in the long run, as they are able to accurately gauge the demand for their produce and as a result able to adjust what they are growing as a result. The farmer is likely to also have the added benefit of receiving a higher return on their crops than they would if they were selling to a supermarket chain, as they no longer have to pay food packaging plants or multiple distributors, and so keep a significantly higher percentage of what their produce sells for.

Another interesting problem is optimising the collection and distribution of our delivered foods. In the future, we would look to train models to choose optimal delivery routes and warehouse locations, while still keeping our travel on a local scale.

We would also record statistics on the carbon footprints of our goods in comparison to competing alternatives, to help encourage customers to remain eco-friendly in their food choices. A customer’s dashboard could include their pending and recent orders, and also a chart of how shopping with Re:Fresh is helping local farmers and the environment.

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