Innovation That Matters

| Photo source Innocean Indonesia

Yellow canteens: a colourful way to keep kids healthy


The colour repels flies and helps reduce the transmission of dangerous diseases

Spotted: Flies are more than a nuisance. They are the carriers and transmitters of numerous diseases, including particularly dangerous ones such as cholera, typhoid, and gastrointestinal illnesses. Researchers found flies to be “a significant route of transmission of bacteria from surface to surface, including plant, animal, and human pathogens.”  

In hot, humid countries like Indonesia, flies are a part of everyday life. Worryingly, they also feature prominently in school children’s lunchrooms. Many school canteens are open-air, making it even easier for flies to access the food. Spurred by increasing concern over fly-transmitted illnesses, Dulux and Innocean Indonesia wanted to see if a particular colour would help repel the pests. 

A bright yellow seemed to do the trick. After observing plates of food on either a brown wooden table or a similar table painted bright yellow, the flies clearly preferred the food on the brown table. With that insight, the Dulux team worked with several schools to transform their canteens. From this idea came social enterprise Yellow Canteen, and the project paints tables, benches, walls, and other structures in school canteens the same cheery, bright yellow. 

Studies of the psychology of colour have found that yellow can also help reduce stress and produce healthy energy. When that is combined with the anti-fly trait, applying yellow paint to communal food areas has the potential to holistically improve the day-to-day experiences of school children, through boosted health via less fly-borne illnesses, and through more emotionally and aesthetically satisfying shared spaces. Schools and other organisations interested in taking part in the Yellow Canteen project are encouraged to get in touch on the website. 

Insects are an essential part of global ecosystems, but they can also pose issues for human safety. So, the management of them is a monumental task. It is made somewhat easier via innovations highlighted in Springwise’s database, such as a new way of planting fields to boost bee health and using artificial intelligence (AI) to eliminate crop-destroying pests while reducing the amount of chemicals used on fields.

Written By: Keely Khoury




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