The Journey

Problem Exploration

Our team first met with the recycling and waste coordinator at the Tufts Office of Sustainability (OOS), who shared her department's concern over waste on campus. Specifically, during the move-in/move-out seasons on campus, the school sees a large increase in student and faculty belongings that get dumped in the trash. A major concern is that many usable items end up in a landfill. While there are existing school solutions in place, the university would like to continue to search for ways to help reduce the amount of waste generated every year.

Key Research Question

In our personal reflections, conversations with the OOS, and conversations with other students and faculty, we noticed a pattern – there were existing solutions (such as Tufts reuse programs and FB Marketplace), but they were lacking. What was causing students to not use these solutions? And what could be done to improve, or, replace them?

Research Phase

We utilized three main research methods to help us understand the problem and reveal the needs of the user. The purpose of the survey was to understand the behavior and experiences of Tufts community members regarding the disposal of goods and the use of existing goods exchange or donation platforms, considering both e-commerce platforms and Tufts reuse programs. We conducted interviews to follow up with survey responses and gain more in-depth insights. Our competitive analysis, which was fueled by our surveys and interviews, as well as other research, helped us to identify the best parts of current solutions and also fill in the gaps to create something better.

Research Synthesis

We then collected all the pain points from our surveys and interviews and grouped them based on similarity in an affinity mapping process. Through this process, we were able to identify the most significant issues with existing solutions, which helped us define user needs and design requirements and brainstorm features to solve these issues.

Design Phase

Feature Brainstorm and Prioritization

To kick off our brainstorming, we used divergent ideation techniques such as mind maps, worst idea, and random word prompt to generate ideas for possible platform ideas. Due to our observations of our target demographic, we settled on a mobile app.

We then prioritized features using a RICE technique using the qualifiers cost/effort on the side of development and value/impact to the user.

Site Map

Once our feature list was prioritized, we developed a site map of the platform. In order to envision how a user would navigate our app, we referred back to the task analysis we conducted in our research phase.

Prototyping & Evaluation

We utilized the Rapid Iterative and Testing Evaluation (RITE) method as the last stage of our design process. We strived to develop screens quickly and test on 2-3 participants for each iteration.

Final Prototype

Our final clickable prototype served as a proof of concept that illustrated our imagined solution.

Lessons Learned

A very thorough research phase can yield useful insights, but the ideation phase deserves just as much attention as well as courage to pursue more unconventional ideas.

My Contributions

As project manager, I handled the project timeline, led meetings, and facilitated working sessions. While I participated in research activities, my focus was in affinity mapping, strategizing, and visual design.


Our team had very busy independent schedules that were often difficult to coordinate; we compensated by holding both in-person and virtual meetings.

Moving Forward

The recycling and waste coordinator at Tufts was very excited about our final product and wanted to take steps to develop it. Unfortunately, we ran out of time but we provided the office with materials to pass onto a future team project.