From Kim Kardashian’s $1-a-minute-earning Kimoji to the create-your-own cartoon avatars made popular by Bitmoji, there has been a surge of successful apps offering smartphone users extra emojis. Now a group of zero-food-waste activists are jumping on the bandwagon in the hopes of boosting awareness of the “ugly” fruit and veggie movement.
A major part of why there is so much produce waste is because of “cosmetic standards from large grocers that dictate exactly how fruits and veggies should look,” Ugly Fruit and Veg Campaign founder Jordan Figueiredo said in Hungry Harvest’s petition.
About one-third of all food produced — about 1.7 billion tons — is lost or wasted along the food chain, according to a 2014 report from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.
Gupta said supporting emojis that confront what are now standard preconceptions of how fruit and vegetables should look opens the dialogue about food waste in a “very nonaggressive way.”
With a goal of not wasting food, Hungry Harvest is also not wasting time. The company has taken the proactive step of creating a free “Ugly Produce!” app that’s downloadable from iTunes. The emojis allow zero-food-waste activists such as Hungry Harvest and Ugly Fruit and Veg to engage with the “same audience in different ways” while also tackling the challenge of bringing in other audiences who may be younger and “might want to talk about the issue, but not in such a serious context,” Gupta says.
The emojis — such as a slice of watermelon with a smiley face — were designed to convey the same emotions people normally see and are already expressing on their mobile devices. “It had to be cute. It had to be relatable, and that’s why we are so cognisant of using items and emotions that people are already thinking about. I’ve never heard someone think about a watermelon and cry. Watermelons are universally loved,” Gupta says with a laugh.
Hungry Harvest hasn’t heard from Apple, Google, or Unicode about the petition. But the feedback Gupta has received from users about the emojis has been positive, with some commenting that the “ugly” name of the app is contrary to how the digital stickers actually look.
If Google and Apple “are able to give a nod to this idea — ugly produce and food waste — it will just validate the movement even more than it’s already validated,” Gupta says. “I think it’s really a home run for everybody.”
This article originally appeared on takepart.com.