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The Natural Choice

By Romy Handana & Isa Bruijnen.

Hi, we are Romy and Isa, two third-year-students of Windesheim Honours College. In this blogpost we would like to share our Value Creators’ journey with you.

Within the Value Creators semester, we aimed to investigate ways to make supermarkets more sustainable. Throughout our student career at Windesheim Honours College, we both discovered that our passion lays in sustainable entrepreneurship in combination with combating issues related to the SDG agenda.

Exploring & Engage

We started our journey by reaching out to many experts related to our topic. A lot of them were willing to contribute to our Value Creators by sharing knowledge. During our conversations, our enthusiasm and their openness often led to the provision of more contact persons. This snowball effect resulted in the realization of the extensive size of the supply chain and all parties involved.

Although we were grateful for the variety of perspectives and learning outcomes, we simultaneously coped with a lot of uncertainty because we weren’t sure where to create value. We talked with people from many different fields including scientists, governments, supermarkets, and many more. By talking to so many people we gained a lot of new insights and different views. We were super excited to combat all these different issues that came to light. However, we quickly realized that this wasn’t possible and that our focus was too broad.

Eventually, we decided to narrow down our focus to the prevention of food waste and implementation of alternative, sustainable packaging. We were also curious about consumers’ motivation to behave sustainably and therefore sent out surveys in order to analyze their habits and decisions more in depth. Online gatherings and participation in events covering topics related to supply chains and re-thinking plastic resulted in learning more in depth about the roles and responsibilities of governments, supermarkets and consumers. We discovered that the latter are all interconnected and depend on one another.

Elaborate & Evaluate

As our journey pursued, we came across two organizations who had collaboratively developed sustainable packages. A supermarket enabled us to promote their prototype among consumers. It had been prominent to hear a range of different opinions and perspectives from the side of supermarket consumers on this specific package, and sustainability in general.

Main outcomes of engaging with the consumers include that the majority is willing to pay a small amount of extra money, but only if they are certain that a product is actually more sustainable. From our conversations with consumers, we learned that they lack trust in supermarkets’ transparency and would like more clarity from the side of supermarkets regarding their products.

Our initial idea was to run a pilot with the sustainable packages in a supermarket. Unfortunately, we discovered the difficulty of this objective as the sustainable package must meet a long list of criteria before it may be realized on the market. This process often takes three years. So, that was a little ambitious with our remaining one and a half month.

In addition, we learned that (generally speaking) many consumers do not merely have little knowledge about sustainable options and practices, but also lack knowledge when it comes to proper waste separation. Hence, we aimed to set up a campaign about waste separation. We would have liked to do this in collaboration with the municipality of Zwolle and ROVA and therefore reached out to them. Although the municipality was rather enthusiastic about the project, they informed us that their busy schedule didn’t allow a cooperation for now.

As a project manager we’re being taught to adapt to uncertain situations and therefore always should adjust our sails according to the direction of the wind. Since our two main ideas were currently infeasible, we had to restructure our plan.

Final product

We looked back on our journey and combined our learning objectives, which were focused on sustainable best practices in supermarkets, sustainable consumer behavior and waste separation. We formalized these concepts into one framework: an online magazine. As we remembered an important quote during the first days on WHC: “Awareness is the first step of change.”, we felt a sudden purpose for educating people on how they can develop a more sustainable mindset and contribute to a greener planet.

We proudly present our magazine ‘The Natural Choice’:

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