In fall 2019, I conducted a five-week research and prototyping project on sustainability and waste management as part of my NYU Integrated Digital Media coursework. My research and design process included the following:
- Reviewing academic literature and current news related to the impact of curbside trash on tourism, residential and commercial waste regulations, and the culture of dumpster diving.
- Conducting a survey with 60 NYC residents
- Interviewing 7 NYC residents, including one sustainability professional
- User testing on different levels of “rough” prototypes to understand user interaction
I ultimately designed a conceptual, automated mug-share machine called the One More Time Machine. In addition, I created a companion product “announcement” flyers, distributed within the NYU department, and a product website: One More Time Machine.
What I was hoping to achieve
It all comes back to the two questions written on post-it notes I kept on my wall:
- How can we increase awareness of the importance of reuse?
- How can we make reuse easier to adopt?
With these questions in mind, the One More Time Machine would address the latter goal in several ways. During interviews, people commented that they often forget their mugs at home, don’t want to carry around a mug all day, can’t afford a mug, and that their mugs don’t fit in the machines. The OMTM makes the process of using a travel mug much more accessible by providing a reasonably-sized mug (short enough to fit under a keurig!) at every corner, for essentially free, without the hassle of carrying the used mug around if you don’t want to. My research also showed that the expense of washing reusable cups in-house or via a service is often a barrier to many cafes. In addition, the requirement of transporting the cups from third party service location to cafe is an expenditure of energy and addition to traffic. The OMTM addresses these issues by being cafe-agnostic and having automated, built-in washers.
While this technology doesn’t quite exist, the concept and surrounding research for the OMTM would help address the former goal of increasing awareness. The One More Time Machine website is both a product announcement page and hub of sorts for learning about the harms of single-use and participating in existing re-use services. The site serves as both tool for presenting my project and as a way to share the basics of what I’ve learned through my research and spread awareness. It is my hope that what I heard during an interview proves true:
“…once you become aware, it’s really hard to stop being aware.” And, that with awareness, comes change in behavior, change in attitude, change in laws, change in world.