Footprint is on a mission to decrease the amount of waste in our environment and increase the amount of materials reused for future products. 


The greatest tool the earth has are the people that inhabit it.

We believe everyone can make a large impact. 


UX/UI Designer, 


Figma, Illustrator


Research, wireframing, prototyping


May-June  2020

What's the deal?

The concept of correctly disposing of waste is nothing new. 


We are taught the importance of sustaining a healthy planet at an early age and there have been numerous initiatives across the globe to engage people to contribute everyday.


I recently learned that only 9% of recyclable materials make it to the proper facilities for re-purposing. The remaining materials either end up in landfills or in our fragile ecosystems. 


I wondered, If recycling is such a prominent message in our society, why is this number so low? What is the disconnect? How can we improve the system?

The problem

I suspect that people are not recycling all their recyclable materials and are uninformed on recycling guidelines. Resulting in increased waste and lack of incentive to recycle. 

Defining research goals

From the beginning it was crucial for me to keep my research goals simplified, ensuring detailed accounts of a common behavior. My research was focused on three key goals:

  • Why do people recycle?

  • How do people recycle?

  • What are common struggles of those who recycle/aspire to recycle?

Meeting the recruits

5 Recruits |  2 women, 3 men  Ages 27- 42

When selecting my recruits, I wanted to evaluate if where a person grew up and where they currently live influenced their recycling habits as well as their view on sustainability. To test my theory, I made sure to interview a diverse group of individuals.



  • People from small towns/ People that live in small towns


  • People from urban cities/ People that live in in urban cities


  • People from outside the US who live in the US

Goodbye assumptions,

its been fun

Prior to conducting the interviews, I felt strongly that there would be a clear distinction between people who recycle and people who do not recycle. 

When I imagined what possible solutions could look like, I assumed I would be designing for a problem focused on getting people to want to recycle and make a difference.

The reality…

To my surprise, it came to my attention that most of the recruits viewed recycling as beneficial and their points of frustration fell into three key points of focus.

Impact. Good intentions. Confusion


  • People view their impact as small and have a hard time visualizing what their personal contribution adds to the big picture. 

  • When a person decides to not recycle an item, they feel guilty, but still view their impact as too small to matter.

  • People often try to justify not taking the time to recycle due to their impact being too small to make a difference. 

Good intentions

  • The recruits simultaneously agreed recycling is an important process that should be adhered to globally.

  • They often recycle all plastics, cardboard, metals without realizing there are specific guidelines per material. 

  • Most people don’t realize that recycling a material incorrectly could contaminate the whole batch as well as other batches. 

  • People intend to follow a sustainable and environmentally friendly lifestyle when they can find the time. 


  • For many people, uncertainty and confusion are common feelings  when recycling certain materials.

  • People don’t understand what materials can be recycled curbside and what materials need to be taken to a separate location.

  • People are not aware of their local recycling and waste guidelines. People  feel they have to go out of their way and comb through a lot of information to get an answer.

  • When traveling, people tend to have difficulty recycling because they are unfamiliar with the area and cannot find the proper receptacles.

Key Quotes

I feel guilty when I don't recycle, I know how much damage plastic creates after ending up in a landfill, when it could otherwise have been reused 

“ I usually end up recycling items every other day. The area I live in now 

doesn't accept straws or glass. These items often end up in the trash because I don't know what to do with them 

I have become more aware of the negative effects of trash over the years, 

and the effect it has on nature, which has made me more conscious to recycle

“ I feel frustrated when communities are not clear about recycling regulations. Materials that shouldn't be recycled end up in recycling centers and whole batches are often trashed due to contamination

How might we

  • Help people visualize their daily impact as being large and important, so they can succeed in their recycling goals.

  • Get people to visualize recycling as a collaborative effort with the worlds population.

  • Modernize the physical and emotional recycling process.

  • Bridge the educational gap to boost engagement in recycling for individuals and establishments.


If an app was created that allowed people to keep track of their impact, then people will be guided to recycle correctly based on the material and their local guidelines. 

Meet our pal,

Taking a look at competitors

Developing user flows

Local guidelines

Happy Flow

Drop off


Now - Key features

Track impact - (landing page) users are able to log their impact whenever and wherever. The users impact will be increased by material whenever new materials are logged. This gives our users the opportunity to see their growing impact in real time. 

Local guidelines - Users expressed frustration and confusion when it comes to local guidelines. Here, users can easily locate guidelines in their home town or in a new location.

Drop off - If a material is not curbside recyclable, users can easily locate a drop off location at a nearby location.


Goal set up - A feature that could compliment the MVP Track impact feature. 

Once more data is collected following the  use of Track Impact, a more detailed goal oriented feature could be developed. 

Detailed Tips - Users already have tips along the way. But if they want to skip the other features and simply educate themselves, a tips page will be developed  for fast interactive learning. 


Reward system - Do users need

more of an award system?

Articles - Where would the articles

come from? Will there be subscriptions?

Paper Protos 

Track impact

"This layout feels limited and to boxed in. Can the information be broken down in a more impactful?"

Local Guidelines

"This page feels very small, could this feature take up the whole screen?"

Drop Off

"I love that you can take a photo or scan of the item you want to dispose of properly. Feels easy and un-fussy"

Users felt that the 

IA did not match with the rest of the app.

"Having tips featured at the bottom feels like an after thought and easy to miss"

"This process feels similar to the Tracking Impact feature. Can the scan and photo options be implemented here?"

Users did not want to scroll down a list of materials. They wanted a process that did the work for them.

"Can you list what is being searched for in maps? Incase I forget what I am currently searching?"

Local guidelines


Though users liked seeing e.g. wildlife saved, users felt this screen was too packed. 

The drop off feature has been streamlined with the track impact feature. Photo and scan. 

"Is there a way to combine recently tracked impacts and the drop off? This screen explores a possible solution.

the city zip from the signup populate as the default. Users can change the zip code as needed.

Users felt having two rows of information would be hard to follow. Could we explore an option of a single row. 

A description of the material being searched has been added to the map view so users know what they are browsing for.

"I appreciate the instructional flow incorporated in these new screens." 

"Do I need to add the both the weight and the pieces? Or just one? Can this be clearer?" 

Tips were moved to the guideline main page for improved discoverability.

Visual prototype

   Version 1

Track Impact

Users get to see their impact in real time, with a quick photo or scan.

Local guidelines

Users can easily access their Municipals guidelines and get informed. 

Drop off

Curbside wont take some of your materials? Users can complete a quick search to find nearby locations.




Creating the apps onboarding was an opportunity to introduce users to the three primary icons and what features they correspond with. Users can easily skip ahead to the main event by selecting skip on the bottom right corner.

The mood

Next steps

Working on this project was very eye opening and I cannot wait to learn more about the relationship between peoples behaviors and the act of recycling and reducing waste. ​

  • Partner with data scientists to calculate impact as accurately as possible. 

  • Start testing in a city that is close in vicinity to the suburbs to get data on city users and suburb users. 

  • Determine which feature is used most frequently. 

  • Partner with municipals and building owners for accurate data.​​​

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