Composting is something that we hear about everyday; it is something we are encouraged to do to reduce food waste. However, most people still do not compost even though it is an efficient way to reduce waste as well as fertilize home gardens. We realized that the general public was just not as aware about how much food, or even energy and water, they were using. Furthermore, they did not realize how many meals could be given to those in need from the canned foods in pantries that often ended up in trash cans. During this pandemic, this problem has become even more evident as families face food insecurity, and donating the extra food people buy to food banks and other distribution centers can be the first step to solving this problem. As a result, we created an app that informs users of their resource consumption in order to motivate them to reduce their energy, food, and water waste.
What it does
Our app tracks how much an individual recycles and how much energy they consume, with water and food conservation features being built in a later model. The user inputs the amount they recycled or the amount of energy they consumed, and depending on whether the user reduced their energy consumption or increased their recycling, it will allow the user to play a game. Essentially, our app gamifies the process of recycling and energy consumption so that users will be more inclined to become more environmentally-sustainable. Additionally, the app also offers monthly tips for how to be more sustainable and locates recycling centers in the RTP area (which we hope to expand worldwide). To make being sustainable even easier for users, the app also hosts a pedometer as a way to incentivize reducing car usage.
How we built it
SustainApple was built through MIT App inventor, a block-based programming platform. Through using a GPS sensor and accelerometer, we were able to create the map of the recycling centers and the pedometer. Monthly tips used the clock sensor, and features like the recycling log, energy log, and Pac-Man-like game used the basic blocks provided by the MIT App Inventor platform. In order to test how our app looked on users' phones, we paired a team member's Android phone to our MIT App inventor account and tested the features we programmed into our app.
Challenges we ran into
Our app was coded using MIT App Inventor. Since this was a new platform for all of us, it came with many challenges, including learning its limitations and figuring out how to work around them in order to create a successful app. Only one of our team members had access to an Android device and could test the code for the app, which made testing, collaboration, and collecting user feedback difficult. The sensors were exceptionally challenging to code. While the first one, a timer for the intro screen, was fairly simple, the GPS and pedometer were hard to integrate into the app.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
We were proud of being able to effectively complete this app in a given restraint amount of time, even though many of us were first-timers. We were also proud of being able to execute our ideas fully into our app.
What we learned
We were able to examine the variety of ways ordinary people can help to sustain the environment and utilize MIT App Inventor and its various features to create a fully functioning app. Through the process, all of us learned teamwork and communication skills as we each have been assigned different roles and yet discussed problems together. The entire experience is cherished by all of us.
What's next for Sustain Apple
We plan to seek Energy consumption data from Duke Energy to increase user's user experience while we provide our service; we will add more features that assist people to maintain a sustainable life. Additionally, we will further improve our UI design.