Mobile App Design







Trashtalk is a mobile application that works to alleviate identified waste management issues at Carnegie Mellon University. Creating a sustainable cycle of value, it incentivizes users to follow green practices on campus while simplifying the process of composting and recycling.




UX Designer & Researcher

With Benjamin Stone & Payal Bhujwala

Using Figma

UX Designer & Researcher

With Benjamin Stone & Payal Bhujwala

Using Figma

*Best viewed on desktop/tablet display

Key features

Redefining the way people can compost and recycle properly at Carnegie Mellon University with these key features:


Incentives to Compost

Students/Staff: Earn dining credit

University: Saves money using composted materials in their landscaping operations

Environment: Users purchase food from more on-campus dining locations that use more sustainable packaging and materials

Adding Value

With Trashtalk, there are stronger incentives and benefits that each persona and user is able to gain from composting. With the system of awarding dining credit to people like Tom within the university community, there is a complete circle of value passed between each stakeholder that promotes sustainable practices.

. . .

Design Process


With the rise of global warming and toxic waste, sustainable waste management practices help to save and preserve our environment. But do people know how to recycle and compost properly?

Many institutions, such as Carnegie Mellon University, strive to implement proper waste management instructions for students and staff to follow. However waste management remains a very confusing ordeal.

The proper identification and sorting of compost and recyclable materials are essential.

Domain & User Research

"It's confusing on what is compostable and what is not."

We initially researched general waste management topics such as toxic waste, landfills, and reusing waste to better understand the foundation and cause of sustainability. Through this secondary research, we realized that in order to create a solution that would create positive impact for sustainability, we needed to narrow down our target audience. As a result, we chose to shift our scope towards sustainability at Carnegie Mellon University, pulling our findings from secondary and guerilla research.

We interviewed Barbara Kviz, coordinator of sustainability and green practice initiatives on campus. She provided many insightful pieces of information on her wishes for university waste management improvements. One thing in particular that she struggles with is educating community members on how to compost properly. Many composting bins on campus are often contaminated due to improper placement of waste and therefore must be thrown away.


  1. Lack of correct information

  2. Confusing infographics and posters

  3. Lack of immediate visual impact/benefits

Journey Mapping

From our findings and observations, we mapped out a customer's journey is managing waste. In doing so, we were able to identify key painpoints that highlighted key opportunities to set the foundations of our solution. The opportunities that we focused on included: reducing single-use, non-compostable packaging and creating an incentive to recycle properly.


We discovered that our problem space comprised of the customer, service provider, and the business owner. Any member of the CMU community would be a potential user of our system/solution as a customer. Our service provider would be modeled after Barbara Kviz, the sustainability director with whom we spoke with earlier. As for our business owner, we considered the Financial Officer at CMU, a figure who funds these sustainability initiatives as a good representation with the perspective of how these initiatives can add value to the institute.

Scenarios & Storyboarding

Following the creation of our personas, we created scenarios and storyboards based off of user needs. From 6 scenarios, we chose two and created storyboards for both. From there, through a speed-dating session, we finalized our storyboard.

User needs:

  • Obtaining information about what is compostable/recyclable and what is not

  • Incentivizing the act of composting and recycling

  • Showing the impacts of poor waste management

  • Showing the correct ways to dispose of trash


We started by individually listing out all potential features we would want our application to have. Next, we combined our features together in a low-level affinity cluster. We made sure that the insights we had gathered from our research and feedback from our storyboards were incorporated and addressed in our designs.

After prototyping the mobile design, we were able to easily extend and add features when designing for larger screens making our solutions responsive web designs.

Lastly, we discovered that our mobile version would have more practical uses due to the camera feature and portability benefits, whereas the desktop version would be more useful for finding more information about sustainability and events.


From quick sketching, we used Figma to produce low-fidelity prototypes. From critiques and multiple iterations, we produced higher fidelity prototypes that we continued to develop for our final pitch. The mobile design became our primary focus with the camera feature.


Through this design process, I learned and developed my skills in identifying a problem area, conducting the relevant research needed for the problem area, synthesizing the results to a defined direction, and then iterating on a mobile design solution. This project allowed me to work on a comprehensive, full development cycle design project.


Jessica Lim,