This project responded to a brief to design a digital sustainability guide based on any related topic. Sustainability has increased significance to me over the years, yet I still have uncertainties about recycling correctly. I decided to focus my project on waste disposal.
World plastic product has increased exponentially since it was first invented and 60% of plastic produced since the 1950s has ended up in landfill or the natural environment. It is important to raise awareness and educate society to improve the current ways we interact with waste, particularly single use plastic (95% of all plastic packaging is discarded after a single use).
Secondary research, mind map, interview, task modelling, user persona, card sorting.
This exercise helped me to find corresponding topics to waste reduction and disposal. It suggested that there may be queries and uncertainties in changing habits. Multiple map points suggest that reducing waste will likely cause the user inconvenience.
A key takeaway gained from interviewing twelve participants were that most are slowly beginning to incorporate more mindful and sustainable practices in their daily life. In terms of waste disposal, participants expressed the importance of recycling but struggle to practice it correctly in all aspects of their life. Convenience was stated as the major draw to single-use plastics. I found that it will require time for users to meet their goals of living more sustainably and that they are generally directly motivated by their family and friends.
"Sustainability can be fun... if only people are willing to invest the time and take it slow, and not commit themselves too much to begin with."
"I know that recycling is supposed to be really beneficial... but in terms of actual practice, I don't exercise it as perfectly as I can."
Persona card describing the user of the problem.
Idea generation in the form of scenario brainstorms for possible design solutions.
This exercise revealed the different ways which users categorised various rubbish items. Some participants were able to create sub-groups and expressed knowledge in identifying items which had separate disposal parts. The exercise confirmed common misconceptions of curb-side household bin recycling, and that when participants are uncertain they will make assumptions about how to dispose of the item.
I sketched some ideas and sought feedback on an idea where users log their waste through their device camera which uses AI to identify the waste and proper disposal method. It was suggested there may be a learning curve in building a habit to remember to log every item, and that the app may only be used when not sure how to dispose of something.
The first model demonstrates the typical ways to dispose rubbish. After proceeding to the wireframing state, I returned to make a second model to illustrate what the task model would look like with my proposed solution.
Wireframes, paper prototyping, feedback, low and high-fidelity prototypes.
I took aspects of my previous ideas and merged them to create an app that uses AI to identify waste items and fosters community interaction to motivate and encourage users.
Previous feedback identified issues with navigation around the app, which was adjusted at this stage.
As my first project, I was more focused on the function of the app as opposed to the user interface. I was also introduced to many new research techniques. If given the time to revisit this project, I believe the UI could be improved to be more visually coherent and clear in order to aid the overall usability of the app.