Converting the Corporate Kitchen into a Smart Room

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The best office is not without the worst use of space: the transformation of a common area into an uncommon display of neglect, where workers have more respect for the money they place in a bank than all the dollars and cents they waste on food that should go to a food bank.

This fact is a foul reminder, because of fish and fowl (and fruits and vegetables) that decay inside a refrigerator, that exceed their shelf lives, that exact a toll on people’s senses the longer these foods stay on the shelves of the same refrigerator. This area is rife with the stench of overly ripe food, of food that goes to waste (before it goes in the trash), of food that represents wasteful spending.

This fact represents the perpetuation of a problem, where, according to the Christian Science Monitor, the average family throws out about $2,275 in food annually.

This area for workers—this work area—represents an extension of what happens at home among workers and non-workers alike. This area is a metaphor for decadence and decay, and decline, too, in which wasteful spending corresponds to expanding waistlines; in which the cost of wasteful spending influences higher costs for health insurance; in which these costs come at the expense of morale, fitness, and nutrition.

That technology can reduce or eliminate these costs is a good thing. That it costs much less to convert a refrigerator into a smart appliance than it does to buy a new appliance, that the savings in costs translate into more green(backs) in people’s pockets, these benefits are all the backing we need to call this technology green.

Consider the alternative.

Picture it, too, as a burial ground for abandoned appliances. The picture has a funereal look because the appliances look like they belong in a funeral parlor, lying on their backs as their contents leak into the ground and lift into the air, poisoning the soil and polluting the sky with mercury, copper, aluminum, and freon. The picture is of a possible future which grows more probable as these appliances accumulate, or: Unless we change our habits, our habits will change our habitat for the worse.

To avoid that situation, we must use technology to better our lives—and improve living conditions.

To advance the cause of corporate wellness, we must condition ourselves to consume what we buy without buying goods we have no reason to consume. Which is to say we need the means to know—and the intelligence to see—what foods we have in our kitchens and cupboards when we shop for food.

One such solution comes from Fridge Eye: a durable, rechargeable (via USB-C), water-resistant camera that turns a refrigerator or cupboard into a smart appliance.

After installing the camera and downloading the app, a person can see (in real time) the contents—and condiments—inside his fridge. By integrating shopping lists, shopping becomes easy, economical, and efficient.

I mention these facts, not to publicize a product but to promote a way of life, of better living through technology: using technology to strengthen the bond between personal health and corporate wellness, because the latter is impossible without the former.

If people take better care of themselves, if they shop for foods they should eat rather than wasting their money on foods that go to waste, if they shop smartly—if they act wisely—they can work more productively.

Their health is a bill of health about the workforce in general. Whether that bill is clean or cautionary, whether it is a small price to pay or a burden too large to bear, whether it is an honor to have or a hardship to abandon, whether the result is good or bad, the question is not whether but weather: Are workers able to weather the challenge—to overcome it—so they may be of sound mind and body?

The answer depends on the information workers have, whether they have the intelligence to see and the knowledge to act.

The answer depends on each company’s interest in wellness.

To measure that interest is to know a company’s devotion, whether wellness is real or rhetorical, whether wellness is a visible commitment or a comment for all to see but none to determine.

What is determinative is behavior that induces or intensifies illness. What will determine the future of corporate wellness is no different than what will define the health of each individual worker. In a word: deeds. Deeds of discipline; deeds of thrift; deeds of industry, for the improvement of lives, with support from all manner of industries.

A deed of first importance is a wholesale cleaning of office kitchens and household appliances. This deed alone will show people how much food they have, how much food they do not need, and how much food they can and should donate on behalf of those who have too little to eat. This deed is good—this offering of goods is right—because it feeds the hungry and helps the environment.

This deed is achievable because a specific brand of technology is accessible, because what is accessible is now actionable, because the choice of action is clear. The choice is an act of conscience. The act has a singular motive, to save the needy—to serve their needs—regardless of whether the act salves the conscience of the one who gives.

What the giver receives is perspective. The perspective to see how valuable food is, how much value people can save, how much savings people can enjoy, how much everyone can do to assure the success of health and wellness.

To have that perspective is a privilege. To exercise that privilege, to privilege the least among us, to be a patron of charity who is neither patronizing nor pretentious, to be a person of few words but many deeds, to be that person is the ultimate privilege.

May opportunity grant us the perspective to see what we can change, so we may have the privilege to know—and the power to do—what is right.