University of Sheffield alumni David Cook has created an app to help students cut down on food waste and gain rewards from the University of Sheffield students union. With food waste identified as one of the leading threats to food security and a third of all food being thrown away, Alexander Fletcher, the Research Associate helping launch the project, explains how the new app Gub Gub will incentivise students to save more and eat better.

Young adults aged 18-34 waste proportionally more food than any other age group and halls of residence produce a huge amount of food waste. With the average student wasting £300 worth of food a year whilst 39% of students unable to afford their weekly food shop, we have created the new food saving app Gub Gub! Named after Dr. Dolittle’s food loving pet pig, Gub Gub is a student food inventory management app aiming to help students develop healthy and sustainable food management practices and getting rewarded for reducing food waste.

Studies have found the use of food waste management apps are effective in reducing citizen food waste and improve confidence and positive behaviour in users (Farr-Wharton 2015; Lama 2019). The launch of the Gub Gub app aims to help students eat what they buy and reduce all categories of edible waste. Gub Gub is a pantry style, inventory app with a range of functions which include:

  • Creating shopping lists
  • Receipt scanning to create a food log
  • Adding “leftovers” to the food log
  • Identifying recipes by ingredient
  • Alerts of food expiry dates
  • Tracking used and wasted foods
  • Tracking monetary value of wasted foods 

The research project, led by Dr. Christian Reynolds (City, University of London) and Dr Beth Armstrong (The University of Sheffield), aims to change behaviours with a combination of reminders and nudges. Gamification of the app rewards the desired behaviours of reducing food waste and improves user satisfaction and likelihood of habitual long-term use. The use of “internal integration” (e.g. in app points and badges) and “external integration” (e.g. cafe discounts and rewards) further increases user satisfaction and likelihood of long-term use (Huang, Chen and Lui, 2018). 

When students use Gub Gub, points are awarded for activities including: measuring waste, creating a shopping list, inputting their food into the app and completing food saving challenges. These points can be traded for opportunities to win a number of variable rewards at The University of Sheffield Students’ Union operated venues. We believe these variable rewards will be effective in encouraging students to enact good food management practices through the app for long time periods with the potential use of encouraging other pro-environmental consumption behaviour in students.

Gub Gub is being promoted and championed exclusively for The University of Sheffield and is free to download and use. The project is working collaboratively with the Students’ Union to ensure wide promotion and interaction with the app and organising different rewards and prizes for interaction with users currently eligible for either a free tea, a coffee or a traybake at Coffee Revolution within the SU. More venues within the Students’ Union are being planned and will be launching shortly, so keep your eyes peeled!

The project hopes to get as many students (and staff!) on board as possible and help save food from going in the bin throughout this academic term. Please help spread the word and help us to increase sustainability at The University of Sheffield. To download the app, simply go to www.gubgub.co.uk or scan the QR code attached to the image below! 

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References

 Farr-Wharton, G. (2015) Mobile interaction design approaches for reducing domestic food waste. 

Huang, C. K., Chen, C. D., & Liu, Y. T. (2019) To stay or not to stay? Discontinuance intention of gamification apps. Information Technology & People

Jones, E (2017) Students struggle under debt stress while at university. ieDigital Available at: https://www.iedigital.com/news/students-struggling-debt-stress-university/

Lama, L. (2019) FoodEd : Encouraging sustainable food waste practices through an informative app. 

TUCO (2019) Tackling Food Waste. Available at: https://www.tuco.ac.uk/sites/default/files/2019-07/Tackling_Food_Waste_Footprint_Report_0.pdfWRAP, (2014) Household Food and Drink Waste: A People Focus. https://wrap.org.uk/content/household-food-drink-waste-people-focus

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