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What is the problem your solution addresses? (150 word limit)
Americans throw out more than 12 million tons of furniture every year according to the Environmental Protection Agency. The majority of this waste does not get recycled and it ends up in landfills, never to be used again. One of the reasons for such a large amount of thrown-out furniture is because they are made cheaply and get damaged easily. This issue is also known as “fast furniture,” much like the term fast fashion, home goods are made cheaply which creates an abundance of waste and is not sustainable in the long term. Another reason is the large number of people that rent living spaces in big cities, creating a constant need to acquire and get rid of items quickly as people come and go. Acquiring second-hand is a more sustainable way to get home goods, however, 66% of our participants acquire their furniture by buying it new.
Why did you pick this solution, and how does it address the problem? (150 word limit)
With 89% of our survey participants answering that they would use pre-owned furniture, along with the rise of popularity of getting second-hand home goods, we decided to create an app that allows thrown-out furniture on the streets to find new homes instead of being thrown away. “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure,” they say! Users can use our app to quickly anonymously post pictures of furniture found on the sidewalk or of their own furniture on the curb that needs a new home. Users looking to get free furniture can explore what is near them and they can also search furniture categories based on their specific needs. This saves many home goods from rotting away in landfills and creates a more sustainable community.
Our project was inspired by Facebook Marketplace and Instagram accounts like @stoopingnyc that aim to create a community that engages in “furniture stooping”, an activity that reduces home goods waste and promotes a sustainable lifestyle. The issue with Facebook Marketplace is that some people don't have the time or don't want to put in the effort to coordinate with a stranger where to pick up/drop off items. We want our users to be able to throw something out in a rush while feeling good about their items not going to waste. @stoopingnyc on Instagram posts updates daily with images that are direct messaged to them. However, it is just for the New York City area and there are only 2 people running the account. This means that people cannot upload their own sidewalk finds to the account and must wait to have the account post them. While we see both the strength and struggles of @stoopingnyc, we believe that by developing an app with more advanced features and user-to-user engagement we could help users be more involved, as well as better support and encourage saving furniture from landfills.
We sent out a survey, as well as did a follow up more in-depth interview with one person to gain both quantitative and qualitative insights into the needs of our target audiences. From the survey, we discovered that 89% would use previously owned furniture, despite the fact that 66% acquired furniture by buying it new. 100% thought an app experience would improve the experience over just following the Instagram page. This validated the need for our app because while people are open to getting second-hand furniture, there just isn’t a good system in place on how to do it at the moment.
With the striking number of annual wasted furniture in the US and the growing community of people getting second-hand furniture in big cities, it would be beneficial to have an app that allows everyone in the community to connect and help reduce home goods waste and promote sustainable lifestyles.
What it does
Trash2Treasure is a local stooping app that aims at urban students and young professionals who hope to find furniture for their living spaces for free. After you sign up, the app allows users to post pictures and descriptions of sidewalk furniture as they come across it, automatically marking the location where they take the picture. The listings will be made anonymously to ensure user privacy since location is involved. Users trying to locate furniture also have the option to filter and search what kind of furniture products they need, and the app will display those products in order of distance. Users can also set notifications for specific types of items as well so they can be the first to see when an item is posted. When furniture is posted, people in the area will see what it is, its description, and its location. Users can heart posts to save to their favorites and also have the app open Apple Maps to the location of the furniture. Once a user is at the location of the posted furniture, they can then claim it and take the furniture as theirs, thus deleting the post from everyone’s feed. Any items the user claims or lists will be displayed on their profile page!
How we built it
We initially started by going into FigJam to brainstorm and ideate all potential app ideas for the 3 given categories. Then we narrowed down our favorite idea of second-hand furniture and “stooping” and started thinking of questions to ask participants so we could get a better idea of our topic and user. From our insights we used Figma to create user personas to ideate the features and goals of our app which led us to create user flows and wireframes. With the baseline of the app established, we then implemented our style guide and designed 25+ screens which we prototyped after.
Challenges we ran into
Two days is a very short window for a UX journey, the most difficult aspect of this was gathering primary and secondary research data, especially when making personas and experience flows. Needing to save most of our time for designing and prototyping, it was difficult to recruit a large pool of participants to get a clearer view of our audiences’ needs and how relevant the issue is. However, we worked with the information we received to gain important insights.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
Successfully working together as a new team and having to adapt and collaborate with each other’s design styles was a huge accomplishment for our group. With strong teamwork and communication, we were able to efficiently go through the design process to create trash2treasure. We also celebrated that there is no app like ours on the market currently, so being the pioneers for this sustainability practice is something we are all very proud of. It is an app we would all use, and it was assuring to hear from friends that they wished an app like ours was available.
What we learned
We have learned to quickly adapt and work as a team of three UI/UX designers who each take care of one portion of the design journey that together completed the project. We have also learned how relevant the issue of second-hand-furniture-using is in our community of student and urban young professionals, thus, we feel proud to contribute to our community and help create a sustainable lifestyle in the cities. We also learned to have fun in the process! Of course, times were stressful being in a time crunch but it is important to experiment with new design ideas and keep each other in high spirits.
What's next for trash2treasure
Next, we would want to run our prototypes and designs through usability testing to validate our designs. By conducting focus groups we can see how the app performs to someone who has no experience with it so we can gauge how intuitive it is. Also, A/B testing to compare screen designs by measuring, clicks, views, etc. to determine which version is the most optimal. Finally, we would want to finalize all of the screens for the app and have them ready for handoff so engineers and developers could create trash2treasure.