This Week Sustainability Design Challenge

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Our first prototype

As you probably know if you have read my previous blogs, I am doing a design challenge for a start-up, Innovation Diploma, where we try to make sustainability part of our schools DNA. On Thursday, our group pitched our redesigned recycling bin to our class and some visitors. From this, we learned a lot of things we can improve from feedback, and looking at our peers reactions while we presented. Our recycling bin included a waist level recycling bin, a foot level trash bin, and an informational poster telling the user what to recycle and and what to throw in the trash. We also labeled the trash can “landfill” so the user would think twice about if it could be recycled now that they knew where it was going.

The feedback we got was relatively underwhelming. Our peers that raised their hand to comment on our pitch were mostly commenting on the presentation and the facts presented in them, not the final prototype. I believe that this was because we didn’t have a full prototype, only the top half with the recycling bin in it. People were also commenting on the first places that came to their head when sustainability was mentioned, California and Switzerland. While we did do research on those places and their environmental laws, we did not put them in the presentation because they would require a lot of money, research, and permission (from the government), like a room designated for burning trash to produce energy for our school. However, my coworkers who did comment on the prototype had some very good questions and feedback for us. We would have gotten much more feedback on our prototype if it was complete, for we only had the top half, the recycling half to show the startup, so some people couldn’t get an exact image of what we were thinking of.

Before we redesign a recycling bin for the whole school to use, I think we should have laid a base and started with simple changes to make our school more sustainable. I think this because you should always start on the base of the problem, with the changes that would make the most impact, that are often the most simple, and then work your way up to the more complicated ones that might not make as much of an impact. If I could go back to the start of the challenge and do something differently, I would propose something totally different and not as groundbreaking. I would suggest that we would start to use alternative energy, alternative energy doesn’t require much upkeep and pays for itself after a couple of years, then continues to pay you after that. Some other routes we could take are to get rid of the styrofoam plates in the cafeteria, having motion sensors that turn lights off automatically, and even something as simple as putting a recycling bin into the cafeteria, as it has none. They are terrible for the environment and even paper plates would be so much better for the environment.

A next step that my group and I could take is going through our feedback and trying to improve both our pitch and our prototype. After we go through the feedback and modify our prototype, we can test it on different classrooms and monitor the recycle bin usage before and after, and gather even more comments and feedback from the students. After that, I hope we can implement it into the whole school, increase recycling bin usage, and make sustainability play a larger part of our DNA!


2 thoughts on “This Week Sustainability Design Challenge

  1. Great improvements to this reflection, Philip. A couple things to consider…You write” Our peers that raised their hand to comment on our pitch were mostly commenting on the presentation and the facts presented in them, not the final prototype.” I think this feedback is a great piece to unpack further. You acknowledge that this lack of feedback helped you realize your prototype was hard to envision, which makes you realize you need to iterate it more, which is great. I also wonder if the feedback on the pitch itself means that people want to hear the story. They want to know WHY we need to make this change and HOW you have laid the plan out to make sure it happens. I love your second paragraph on new ideas to consider. I wonder how your group could incorporate some of those ideas into next steps or how you can begin to tackle one of those pieces as a personal venture.


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