My inspiration for this app came up long ago when having trouble trying to recycle a deodorant container given all the different pieces and differing types of plastic. This difficulty was further emphasized when I found myself collecting lots of empty plastic bottles and containers of which I didn't know how to properly clean and separate and didn't know where each part could be recycled.
As a large part of the ease of use of the application involves using the camera to scan objects, a lot of the inspiration for this came from the camera search function on the amazon app.
What it does
Re-use has two main functions. One is to help make recycling much easier for consumers. The other is to help consumers find ways to actually reuse their products themselves whether through user submitted DIY crafts or by assisting in selecting plastics that can be recycled to create 3D printing material.
Recycling is made much simpler for users as they can quickly scan any product to find out all the details they need to recycle the item. This includes detailed recycling instructions, the materials each piece of the item is made of and how much of the product is recyclable, distance to the nearest recycling location that accepts the product, as well as if the product can be taken with residential recycling. This can come in handy both in helping consumers to make informed purchases as well as what to do after making the purchase and using the item. There is also a browse function where users can search a large variety of items and can even compare products based on which products have the most amount of recyclable material, which products are easiest to recycle, and other search filters. There will also be a locator for recycling centers nearby with detailed information on what materials are taken and what the requirements are for items taken in.
The other side of the app is the projects side of the app. There will be an area for users to search for as well as submit DIY projects made from reusable materials. It will be similar in function to the instructables website but will be made much more adapted for mobile use. There will also be another similar area but will focus exclusively on 3D printed projects. This will be based on the idea of users having access to a machine that converts recyclable plastic into 3D printer material. Users can easily see possible projects based on the type of plastic, and can leave feedback on how well different types of plastics worked for certain applications.
Additional features will be a groups feature, where users can join groups based on their interests, and an events feature, where users can find events for recycling or create their own. There will be a guide on how to run a group if a user creates one.
To make the app more interactive, users will have personal profiles which they can use to create recycling guides or submit projects, leave feedback on other guides/projects/recycling locations. There will also be a points system which will reward users for making contributions and for recycling as well as for purchasing items that are more environmental friendly. These points can be earned in various ways and can be redeemed for small items such as gift cards. Each user will also have an impact score on their profile, which shows how much of an impact their recycling has made so far since using the app.
As this is a large amount of information that will have to be created, in the initial stages of the app there will be a large reliance on user submitted recycling guides and projects. These will be simple to create and the recycling guides may even be used as a reminder of how to recycle a product again in the future. To help incentivize this, points will be rewarded for these actions as well in the early stages.
How I built it
I started off brainstorming everything I wanted in the app, then started to organize the layout and grouped similar ideas. I then made a sketch of what the homepage would look like and transferred this to Justinmind. From here, I added additional pages until I had a basic wireframe of how the application would run.
Challenges I ran into
I had difficulty initially in getting Justinmind to work as I didn't know there was an option to refresh the app so was wondering why new changes were not showing up and originally kept deleting and reinstalling the app to make changes show up.
Accomplishments that I'm proud of
I am proud that I managed to create a design that works for what I am trying to achieve despite missing the team building and having to work solo, and despite getting a late start on my project.
What I learned
I learned that getting a design for a phone app down is much simpler than I had previously thought. I also learned that the back-end structure can be built after an initial design is made and may actually be preferred.
What's next for Re-use
Re-use will move from the design/prototype phase to the creation of a solid back-end structure that will provide all the functionality needed for the app.