RecycleIt App Concept

Why don't people recycle?

I started this project thinking about my own recycling habits. I try to be as conscious of recycling as I can, but have room for improvement. I observed people I lived with and people in public and generally speaking, we can all be better. I was curious as to whether there could be a digital solution to change this behavior.


I started by asking people around me about their recycling habits. What I found was that the main three reasons people had for not recycling a given item were:


They didn't think about it

They don't know for sure if it can be recycled

One item isn't a big deal

The most interest I got when talking to people was from those who already make an effort to recycle. I chose them as my target audience because they are more willing to try something to improve, and can hopefully engage those around them. 

I took inspiration from FitBit. Companies hold competitions to motivate employees to be more active, therefor increasing their health. People also use FitBit on their own, just as a way to track their personal health. By making people aware of small things like numbers of steps, heartbeat, or sleep patterns, people became more willing to make healthy choices. I also looked at apps like ReceiptHog, where people take photos of receipts for rewards. This made me think that it would be a natural, easy way to track items, without having to enter the data. I also looked at Litterati, a company fighting litter by posting pictures on Instagram. 


I started by researching what really can and can't be recycled. I found facts and statistics about waste and recycling. According to one source, American's throw away 2.5 million plastic bottles every hour. This one shocked me, because that's one of the more recyclable items I could think of. 


I began sketching different scenarios for how a digital tool could be integrated easily into everyday lives. I thought of times that I find myself at a loss for whether or not I can recycle something, and times where I feel wasteful. From there, I outlined the process that I thought would be simplest for users to do throughout the day, because if people already think recycling takes too much time, a complicated app wouldn't change that. My sketches are shown below. 

Sketches of scenarios and wireframes

Early digital sketches

First Visual Solution

The first iteration of this app gives users 2 main options, to check their stats on a dashboard page so the data is visual, and photograph items to count them as recycled. Because one of the three reasons for not recycling was not knowing if an item could be recycled, I wanted to add a search feature. I thought this would fit best with the camera, as people could easily snap a picture if the item could be recycled. 

Animated Prototype
Reflections and Next Steps

Next, I'd like to get user feedback on this as a concept, and from there make a more refined prototype. I also think that adding a social or gaming aspect could make this a more effective solution. I'd also like to look at micro animations for the data and get more feedback on what information users find useful and motivating, as well as test whether the actually number of items is more impressive, or if a point system where less common items were worth more would be motivating. 


Updates to come! 

© 2018 Sara Ciaramella

Sara Ciaramella