Environmental awareness and waste reduction are important to us and the people around us. The City of Minneapolis has recycling and composting guidelines on their website, but users might not always look at them. Minneapolis also has a city-wide composting program, but users might not know what they can compost. In hopes of reducing trash in our city, we hacked the waste-management system by making a fun waste-sorting app.

What it does

We take inspiration from fun online quizzes to format a waste-sorting app. When a user has an item to dispose of, they can open our app on an android phone. The user is greeted with a welcome screen where they can click a button to start the quiz. In a following series of process-of-elimination questions, our app narrows down how the user should dispose of their waste. Once the app has determined how the user should sort this item, it displays an endscreen explaining how to properly dispose of the item. The user can then close the app or sort another item.

How we built it

First, we made a flowchart of what we wanted our process-of-elimination to be. Then, we prototyped our app by making a rough draft on Once we tested our flowchart with the app, we were able to start making the real app in Android Studio.

We decided to use Android Studio as our development platform for our final product due to being able to use Java, a language that the three of us are all comfortable with. Our final design utilized a multi screen workflow that would all run on the main activity page using the different layouts. We had to format it so that each question slide looked identical making the switch much more seamless. The majority of our source code was in the MainActivity class. We created a good foundation for the app.

Challenges we ran into

We ran into more troubleshooting and debugging issues than we planned so time was probably our greatest adversary throughout this competition. Also not necessarily knowing what the best way to execute our idea was, we spent a lot of time researching and asking for advice from the mentors.

Accomplishments that we're proud of

This is the first app that we have ever made. This app and our app-development skills have a lot of room to grow, but our newfound knowledge of Android Developer has given us the skills and creative spark to delve further into this and other projects in the future.

What we learned

We learned how to extend our Java skills to the Android Developer app for app development. We learned how to implement navigation and different elements on the app. We also gained valuable experience in the process of app-development: brainstorming an idea, specifying it into something implementable given the time/resource constraints, researching what we don’t know, and then collaborating to complete the app within a tight deadline. Most importantly, we sharpened our knowledge on recycling and composting guidelines.

What's next for WasteBusters!

Our app is currently built with the Minneapolis waste guidelines in mind. We could implement features that customize the quiz based on which city the user is in, possibly using the location features from users’ phones. We can also include more links to helpful resources. We hope “waste” can grow to help consumers be more mindful of their waste, inspire municipalities to improve their waste management departments, and remind product designers of waste guidelines.

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