Inspiration

A record 53.6 million metric tonnes (Mt) of electronic waste was generated worldwide in 2019, up by 21 percent in just five years. With COVID-19 keeping people indoors, electronics usage is only getting higher; and without proper intervention, it is likely to be over 100 million tonnes of e-waste by 2050 The solution to controlling these alarming rates is to follow the 3 Rs- Reuse, Repair & Recycle Out of all the 3 ways, the easiest one to implement in our daily lives is Reuse We wanted to make a reliable, easy-to-use platform for people to share & reuse their electronics with their peers. And that's how CareToShare came to be!

What it does

CareToShare is a conversational Webex chatbot connecting people interested in contributing to the "circular economy"- by either lending or borrowing electronic gadgets. For Lenders, it helps reduce personal e-waste & extend the lifecycle of gadgets [also earn a bit if interested]. The app keeps track of the items lent to others. For Borrowers, the bot enables a quick search of electronics available with their peers. It also initiates a private conversation space between the two parties to safely exchange the required additional details.

How we built it

We started working on CareToShare by creating a Webext Chat bot & generating its Access code. Next, used Botkit SDK in node.js to program multiple commands the chatbot can understand. For persistent storage of all the items, we linked a MongoDB in the backend. Finally hosted it locally using ngrok to get a public URL for the bot. We also used git for version control.

Challenges we ran into

The first challenge was to zero in on the problem we wanted to solve. There were many ideas- so we had to rank each one based on feasibility, ease-to-develop, maximum impact, etc to finalize one. Our entire team consists of network engineers, so coding itself was a big challenge. We had to take time to understand different technologies before actually coding the project. Coordinating time zones was slightly challenging as well. However, we were determined to put together a project that will contribute to a good cause and this is its result.

Accomplishments that we're proud of

3 non-coders made a working app at the end of 48-hrs. This gives us immense joy and is definitely our biggest accomplishment. Also, being able to help people get closer to their sustainable living goals.

What we learned

We learned that no matter how many technologies we know collectively, getting exposed and used to new software is always a challenge. But we also learned to adapt - when we ran into problems with software that seemed to be glitching, we would move onto another part and continue working just so we wouldn't fall behind too much. Coding can be fun as a group - having so many brains work together made the process faster. That being said, people's coding styles are different, and understanding each other's code is even harder. Hence it is very important to set coding standards while working on projects.

What's next for CareToShare

We want to add more functionality to upload images of the items, send reminders to the borrowers, calculate the price total at the end of the transaction, etc. We want extend to larger communities & categories.

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