Wee Grow

Summary

Wee Grow is a service design which tackles the environmental issues of algal blooms due to the use of synthetic fertilizers and the ever-increasing amount of landfill waste due to the use of disposable diapers. With the use of Wee Pail we transform biodegradable diapers into a useful form of fertilizer, the Wee Shred. This fertilizer could not only provide an alternative to synthetic fertilizer but also help reduce the diaper contributions to landfill waste.

Key aspects

Collaborative Efforts

Product and Service Design

Environmental Stewardship

Scientific Research

Innovation

Karishma Dotia: Concept, product design, service design, scientific research and experimentation, animation, and copywriting.

Jieun Lee: Product design, Visual design, branding, and 3d modeling

Timeline

3 months / Spring 2018

Context

Biodesign Challenge / School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC)

After winning the competition at SAIC, we represented our college at the Biodesign Challenge 2018 at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA). We won the top 8 position with this project, against 27 universities participating from around the world .

 Karishma Dotia (left) and Jieun Lee (right) presenting at the MoMA. Photo courtesy Biodesign Challenge

 

Target Problems

Video explains the environmental problems Wee Grow aims to solve.
Credits: Animation and Script by Karishma Dotia
Voice Over by Jieun Lee and Karishma Dotia

According to our research, two of the most significant contributors of Phosphorus and Nitrogen into our water systems are the use of synthetic fertilizers in agricultural land and human excreta.

For our Biodesign project we wanted to find ways to  reduce the amount of Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium entering the water systems and avail a potential fertilizer, the human urine.

Using biodegradable baby diapers we are trying to harness the nutrition for plant fertilizer, potentially replacing synthetic fertilizers.

A baby goes through 6-8 diapers a day, thus a single baby uses 6500-10,000 diapers before potty training.

 

Design Concept

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Wee Grow takes a step towards environmental stewardship by bringing together communities of parents of newborns and gardeners.

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Once the parents subscribe to our Wee Subscription, we provide them with our specialized product the Wee Pail, biodegradable diapers and the pail maintenance service.
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Currently, we only deal with urine - filled diapers and not feces filled diapers due to bio-safety constraints. Even using urine filled diapers would solve the landfill issue to a great extent, because in a day, a baby uses 4-5 urine diapers while 3-4 feces diapers.
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The Wee Pail converts urine filled biodegradable diapers into plant fertilizer, the Wee Shred. 
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At Wee Grow, we collect all the Wee Shreds, process and package them, which are then available on our website for the local agricultural community. 
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Once the babies do not require diapers anymore, parents end the subscription service and we collect the diaper pail and work other environment conscious parents. 

Products

 
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Credits: Technology Research and Product Ideation by Karishma Dotia
3D Modeling, Rendering, Iconography by Jieun Lee
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Urine filled diapers get transformed into a usable form of fertilizer, the Wee Shred, in three step processes by our Wee Pail.
The Wee Shred could potentially replace nitrogen based synthetic fertilizers, it can enrich dry soil, and improve soil texture.

Scientific Research and Experiments

 
Credits: Research and Experiments by Karishma Dotia under the mentorship of Dr. Andrew Scarpelli
From March to June 2018, research and experiments were done to validate the design and technology concepts

Presentation and Exhibition

 
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Credits: Exhibition display designed by Karishma Dotia posters and infographics designed by Jieun Lee

Skip to 3:22:08 on the timeline to watch our presentation of Wee Grow at the MoMA addressing a crowd full of designers, scientists, scholars and entrepreneurs!
The project was also publicly exhibited at the Parsons School of Design in New York.