An app that could potentially reduce 66 million tons of plastic waste and save the lives of 1 million sea creatures.
Blue ++ is a mobile application that helps reduce an individual's plastic footprint in the environment by encouraging the use of sustainable plastic alternatives and in return rewards users with discounts and coupons at their favorite takeout places.
We are surrounded by plastic everywhere, though it is harmful to our environment, we use them on a daily basis. It is one of the causes of ecological imbalance on earth. We dump approximately 1 garbage truck of plastic packaging in oceans per minute and it is said to increase by 2 in 2030.
Users can upload pictures of any reusable alternative they possess from the list and receive a sticker with QR code. This can be scanned at select take out stores to receive discounts on their purchase every time they carry their item.
Everytime a user scans the QR code at stores, a record of the plastic avoided in grams is added to the user’s profile. This way they can compete with others on the leaderboard to reach the top as the environmental superhero.
I conducted the first round of interviews and a series of experiments to understand how people perceive living with plastic waste.
People knew they were producing a lot of plastic waste but didn’t know how much quantity they were generating.
They understand the depth of the problem but they aren’t motivated enough to do anything out of the ordinary.
There is no reward associated with doing a task that is not beneficial to the users in a shorter run.
I handpicked a target group, studied them and implemented a process in which the users were taken from start of the problem to end of the solution. I was inspired by the 3A’s strategy of language development. Metaphorically there were similarities in language learning and habit forming models, hence I incorporated the 3A’s strategy in this scenario to create a habit of carrying their own reusable alternative.
I designed a pocket size tally sheet in the form of a business card that contains the tally of commonly used plastics and handed it over to 12 people. The target audience were students and young professionals as they tend to purchase takeout orders a lot. I received back the cards after a week and the observation was that people were starting to notice their usage patterns and realizing the problem.
I created an audio-visual piece to bring awareness about existing single-use plastics and how their day-to-day usage is impacting at a larger scale.
One interesting strategy considered for this purpose is using a model of peer pressure. It is known to compel people to do tasks that they generally tend to ignore. Another interesting strategy considered was providing small rewards for even less involvement drives them both intrinsically and extrinsically to further contribute to the cause.
The theme is inspired by the oceans as this project is about reducing plastic that is being dumped in oceans and in turn helping the sea creatures survive.
The idea here is to build a mobile application that rewards users for carrying their own sustainable alternatives to plastics at take-out stores. Also, in order to make this a habit and maintain retention of the app, I made use of successful psychological models such as peer pressure, gamification and empathy to create a fruitful proposition.
Let's take an example of Wilson's journey:
Wilson gets a notification when his friend saves plastic and shows how far behind he is from his friend. The main screen of the app also shows this information, thus inducing peer-pressure.
Wilson will be able to compete with not only his friends but people from all over the world to reach the top as an environmental superhero.
Wilson gains a sense of achievement when his task of taking the first step in avoiding plastic has a direct implication on saving a living being.
The stakeholders involved are users and cafe/restaurant businesses. Everyone involved has a hand in contributing to the cause in their own way and still individually be benefited out of this app. Users would receive discounts just for using their own reusable alternatives whereas businesses would attract traction through the app and as well proudly announce that they support such a huge social cause.
“Blue++ has a potential to make a difference in people’s mentality towards consumption of single-use plastics. New York City would definetely need this intervention.”
- Richard The, Associate professor at Parsons School of Design, Ex-Google
“This app is very engaging and I want to use it to compete with my friends.”
- Harpreet Sareen, Associate professor at Parsons School of Design, Ex-MIT
Prioritizing the important aspects of the app and doing usability testing to test interactions and the ease of understanding the interface. Iterating with feedback and creating compelling designs that are production ready.
Talking to business owners and incorporating their perspective into the app so as to get their engagement with the cause.