Sustainable Practices // Design Research
Sustainability Design Research
My team and I conducted different types of research methods on a problem space at Carnegie Mellon University: the lack of sustainable practices. Throwing away waste is a daily task but we usually don't think about what should be recycled, composted, or trashed, especially if one is a busy college student.
Final Research Summary Poster
A 17" x 22" Infographic summarizing our findings and proposal.
Understanding the Problem
To better understand our problem space and create an effective solution, we looked at how Tazza D'Oro is situated in the bigger picture of sustainability (Territory Map) and all the people involved (Stakeholder Map).
We then looked at preceding projects near and at CMU. All of these mappings opened us up to asking more questions that we couldn't have realized with our pre-existing assumptions.
We interviewed 33 people (students, staff, faculty), and conducted an in-depth interview with, Barbara Kviz, CMU's first Environmental Coordinator who is responsible for CMU's green practices. We learned that:
- Many students don't know what composting is and that Tazza even has a composting bin
- Students who know about composting say they will throw things away in the most convenient trash can
- Even the Tazza manager admitted he sometimes forgets what is compostable or recyclable
- There's just poor placement of bins and signage in general
- CMU has actually made great strides in green practices, particularly pre-composting, which is employees being responsible for composting like the coffee grounds seen in the pictures above next to the compost bin. Post-composting is the real issue, consumers just do not compost or do it correctly.
- CMU spends a LOT of money on having compostable things but they are also wasting a lot of money because these things do not get composted.
Compost Categorization Game
To understand what people are thinking when they approach the bins in Tazza, we created a game to test user knowledge about Tazza's composting and recycling while educating them in general about sustainable practices.
User Testing New Signage
The composting game further reinforced that people are not as informed about Tazza's materials being almost 100% compostable. However, participants were very eager to learn about composting habits. Our team brainstormed and user tested a short-term, new signage to see if it would make composting easier and inspire people to change their waste habits.
Unfortunately, we discovered that while some people became more conscious of the signs and slowed down to compost, we were only reaching a limited audience because the signs were in one corner of Tazza.
After conducting our research, we believe that through awareness raising of composting and Tazza d'Oro's green initiative, we can help facilitate greener behaviors of the customers of Tazza d'Oro and those that visit the area.
First, more composting bins and clear signage would be added. We also proposed that Tazza d'Oro strictly buy only compostable products, down to every straw and sugar packet. Aside from outside waste brought into the environment, this would remove any confusion about what to compost.
The cafe took some of our research findings and changed the compost bin and its location to make it more visually and physically accessible.