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The Sustainery:

A Zero-Waste Venture



Human-Centered Research & Design


Product Manager, Venture CEO



Throughout my MBA’s final semester, I led a dynamic team of five peers as we designed a zero-waste inspired business venture, providing a critically examined market solution to the challenge of wasteful grocery packaging. As the capstone project for our program, this venture integrated all skills earned within the program: design innovation; product, service, and experience integration; research-driven customer insights; in-depth market analysis; financial viability; operational feasibility; market-fit desirability; financial, social, and environmental sustainability. Our challenge: In a world where plastic packaging is convenient, cheap and ubiquitous, increasingly harming both our planet and our health, the eco-minded urban consumer has few convenient alternatives to goods packaged with single-use plastic, especially in the grocery store...

...create a profitable business model that eliminates packaging waste by reimagining the grocery shopping experience (without sacrificing accessibility, convenience, or profitability)?

Business Model Innovation

Project & Event


Narratives &

Visual Storytelling

Trend Forecasting & Foresight Tools


We left no stone unturned as we designed and undertook a robust research plan (Including a thorough industry and competitive analysis, a 126 respondent survey, 21 qualitative interviews with urban consumers and industry players, social listening, story-boarding, card-sorts, and shop-along observations) Through this we revealed unforseen insights, customer habits, and unmet needs.

By deeply analyzing our findings, we established several customer personas, identified leverage points and key insights (see below), and honed our challenge statement to focus efforts on pantry products and service design.


Fueled by extensive market research and multiple iterative design sprints, we identified and explored numerous package-free shopping solutions from physical stores to delivery services, CSR partnerships to farmer’s market pop-ups, subscription models to the milk-man model, and more.

Inspired by my own strategic forecasting of “the future of waste” (as well as a personal loathing for single-use plastics) I saw the challenge of single-use grocery packaging as an opportunity. Over five months, I guided our agile team as we identified customer pain-points and found a financially viable solution through the following process:



Our prototypes were put to the test with in-depth interviews and walk-along observations. With additional research we began the process again by empathizing with our test subjects, converting our findings into insights, and refining our solutions to meet customer needs.

Considering financial modeling, customer needs, and market innovation, we prioritized solutions that appeared simultaneously viable, feasible, and desirable. Using low-fidelity storyboards and card-sorts, and a high-fidelity popup installation, we brought these solutions to our target customers to validate our assumptions.

  • Eco-conscious consumers are frustrated by a lack of plastic-free options; they feel guilty that convenience comes at a wasteful price


  • Consumers are unwilling to sacrifice quality or variety for sustainability


  • Bulk-good purchasers experience a noticeable moment of delight as they organize and stock their pantry — a moment we identified as “Pantry Pride”



Turning insights into action, we designed The Sustainery, a zero-waste, food subscription service that delivers high-quality pantry staples in reusable, returnable containers. Implementing a digital ordering service, delivery to urban pop-up locations, and a zero-waste inspired Pantry Makeover service, The Sustainery delivers… Pantry Pride (n): A feeling of deep pleasure or satisfaction derived from one’s pantry

From ideation to pre-launch, we brought our work to life with a monthly story-telling deck that shared our process and findings. At our programs conclusion, we pitched The Sustainery to industry experts, established a fully-developed, professional business plan, and installed a pop-up preview at a venture exhibition. Included in our business plan was an in-depth: operations plan, financial model & forecast, go-to-market & sales strategy, brand strategy & visual identity system, funding & milestones launch plan, pitch deck & presentation.

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