Although recycling has become a more widely accepted and used practice today, there’s no denying that many still opt for the opposite. This is especially true for students who continue to throw away their empty alcohol bottles/cans into the trash. Coming into Hack the North, my team and I soundly agreed that this concern should be addressed and a solution should be taken to the web. We feel that not only will creating a web application for recycling promote better social good and foster environmental practises on campus, students who join as “Collectors” can also earn a quick buck by recycling bottles/cans to the Beer Store.

What it does

The world is becoming more and more interconnected with technology. With BeerKart, we want to create a web application where we connect people who want to get rid of their empty alcohol cans/bottles with people who are passionate about recycling.

What does it do? Think UBER, but instead of people picking up and transporting other people, BeerKart lets people pick up empty bottles/cans from other people, and bring it to recycling facilities to properly dispose of it and make some money off it!

How does it work? Simply sign into the web app. Choose whether you want to schedule a pick up for your empty bottles/cans, or if you want to be a collector of bottles/cans. If you choose the first option, you’ll be able to complete a pick-up request form and submit a request for someone to take it off your hands. If you choose the latter option, you’ll get to see all pick up order requests and then select one location to pick up your bottles/cans.

Challenges we ran into

As first timers at a Hackathon, we had a ton to learn. That said, challenges faced during Hack the North were inevitable, but we took on each challenge with our best intentions to succeed.

One major challenge that we faced early on into our project was learning how to use and set up CockroachDB. Seeing as no one on our team knew how to use or implement databases prior to partaking in this 36 hour challenge, we worked extra hard to overcome this hurdle. We overcame this challenge by being extra proactive in doing online research and actively connecting with other Hackers to learn from them.

A second major challenge that was faced during our time at Hack the North was having to work with incompatible versions of Python and Flask from a virtual environment. We are thankful to the help of CANSOFCOM for their help and support. Without them, we would have continued to struggle with these incompatibilities with Python and Flask.

And finally, we experienced some trouble with our GitHub workflow, especially with merging conflicts and version controls. We were able to overcome this challenge with ease by reading into the GitHub documentation and learning more about managing workflows on GitHub.

Accomplishments that we're proud of

As first timers to any Hackathons, we are extremely proud of the progress we’ve made on our project. We came together without a plan, but came out with a well fleshed web application that we believe could bring real positive social and environmental change. On the same note, we are also proud of the knowledge we’ve gained through trial and error, working together as a team and from speaking to other hackers, and the incredible amount of technology that we were exposed to in order to get BeerKart to take off.

What we Learned

From learning how to take a concept and bring it to launch, to learning new web development stacks, and how to deploy a web application, we are extremely proud of our progress and wish to bring these new learnings into our future endeavours on the digital tech space.

Built With

The design of the product took form in many ways. We planned our product mostly through pen and paper, whiteboarding, and through shared Google Docs. The UI was created using Sketch App. And we developed and deployed BeerKart using CockroachDB, Firebase, Google Maps API, Jinja 2, Flask, Python, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and AJAX.

What's next for BeerKart

As with all minimal viable products, we were quite selective in our chosen feature set list. We felt that these features really embodied BeerKart’s values and purpose and met the core needs of our target user. Given that we only had 36 hours to create BeerKart, there were some definite elements that we had to exclude. We hope to bring them in to the next iteration of the product. These things include:

  1. UX and UI Design: Conducting thorough user research to understand the pain points of our user and continue to improve the user experience and user interface design.
  2. New and Improved Features: We hope to implement a few more features that we believe would truly benefit the web application. These include the ability for a user to schedule bottle pick up services with date, time, and location, the ability to auto-assign Collectors with pick up orders, the ability to give Collectors and Schedulers a star rating after pick up, and to have a continuous search method that will allow Collectors to be auto assigned to pick up orders so long as they are online and available.
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Quick Fact: BeerKart has a lot of marketable potential. As it stands, Canadians drink 79 litres of beer and 15 litres of wine per year. If all these bottles were returned at the market price for 0.10CAD per beer bottle and 0.20CAD per wine bottle the market for this business is over 500 million dollars But Canada is still rank 40 on alcohol consumed per capita, so if we were to push our project globally, the market for this business is over eighteen billion. Even if BeerKart is monetized at the charge of 10 cents per dollar the market cap of the company would cross 1 Billion.

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