Tackling Food Waste With Grace – Kavita Shukla’s Story

Kavita Shukla

We love visiting our grandparents homes. They always have candy and give us some secret cash. But for Kavita Shukla, a brief visit to her grandmother’s house led to a life changing idea. She invented something that would make her the recipient of the world’s largest prize in design! So what was this amazing idea? Let’s find out!

Kavita Shukla was born in Germany and moved to the United States when she was a young child. From a young age, Shukla loved experimenting and inventing new things. At just 8 years old, she spent her free time in the garden, observing rotting food and building a cleaning house for her pet bunny. She also created a lab safety device for bottles containing hazardous materials and dubbed it the “Smart Lid.”

The Origin of Freshpaper:

When she was 12, Kavita Shukla went to visit her grandparents and accidentally drank tap water on her trip which led to her having an upset stomach. Her grandmother gave her a homemade drink with ground fenugreek which instantly helped with her health.

After observing the effects of fenugreek, Shukla began conducting her own experiments and discovered that fenugreek could not only remove toxic substances but could also inhibit bacterial and fungal growth. She thought about using this discovery to aid food preservation, and had an idea to develop a packaging paper using fenugreek.

She created her own paper blend using $25 worth of materials from a craft store and obtained a patent for her fenugreek-treated paper in 2002. 

She named it Freshpaper and described it as a “disposable, recyclable, and biodegradable sheet that naturally keeps produce fresh for longer—thereby reducing food spoilage”. 

Fenugreen (now known as The FRESHGLOW Co.) was founded in 2010 by Kavita Shukla to market FreshPaper. Her invention is sold in major grocery stores across the world. 

The motivation: 

Kavita’s reason for spreading Fresh Glow Paper was to seek to support citizens in developing countries, including her grandma’s little community. She understood that food spoiling was a big issue as more than 50 million Americans are food shaky.

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Shukla was also co-founder and CEO of SAFEH2O, a non-profit water testing company where she managed and took part in every process. She also plays the violin and practices dancing in her free time. 

  • Index Design to Improve Life Award: The World’s Largest Prize in Design
  • Forbes 30 under 30 list: Social Entrepreneurs
  • Time magazine ‘5 most innovative women in food’ list
  • Received Toyota’s ‘Mother of Invention’ award 
  • Newsweek’s 125 Women of Impact
  • The Economist Disruptive Innovation Challenge: Grand Prize
  • Fast Company’s ‘7 Entrepreneurs Changing The World’ list
  • Global Entrepreneurship Congress Startup Open Grand Prize: “Most innovative young company” 
  • Harvard alumni ‘S Elevate Competition Award for Change
  • Part of the National Gallery for America’s Young Inventors
  • Winner of the Lemelson-MIT Invention Apprenticeship.
  • Women in the World Summit featured speaker. 
  • Variety’s annual “Power of Women” honor. 
  • Featured in CNN, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Oprah Magazine, Glamour, and the Today Show.

Shukla’s story of simple beginnings has inspired millions worldwide. She has served as an inspiration for a short film which was directed by Bryce Dallas Howard.

Shukla’s innovations tackle global food waste which is a recurring and pressing issue. Her simple yet effective invention has been featured and recognized by many. This Harvard Alum’s journey is one fit to aspire women and children alike.

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