UI | UX Design


Trashtalk is a mobile application that works to alleviate identified waste management issues at Carnegie Mellon University. It creates a sustainable cycle of value and incentives to follow green practices on campus and simplifies the process of composting and recycling.

UI | UX Designer & Researcher
With Benjamin Stone & Payal Bhujwala
Using Figma


redefining the way in which people can compost and recycle properly at carnegie mellon university with these key features:


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



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 members to follow. However, waste management remains a very confusing ordeal.

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


"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 impacts for sustainability, we needed to narrow down our audience. As a result, we chose to pursue a more relatable audience to learn more about; we chose to focus on sustainability at Carnegie Mellon University through secondary and guerilla research.

We interviewed Barbara Kviz, coordinator of sustainability and green practice initiatives on campus. She provided many insightful pieces of information about what she wishes could be improved in how the university manages its waste; she struggles with 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.



customer & service provider journies

We mapped out a customer's journey in managing waste. In doing so, we were able to identify key painpoints and therefore key opportunities to set the foundations of our designs. The opportunities that we decided to focus more on included, reducing single-use, non-compostable packaging and creating an incentive to recycle properly. Many of these opportunities aligned with the research and information we had gathered from our secondary and guerilla research.


For our personas, our problem space was divided into the customer, service provider, and 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 at CMU with whom we spoke with earlier. As for our business owner, we considered the Financial Officer at CMU, a figure whom funds these sustainability initiatives as a good representation with the perspective of how these initiatives can add value to the institute.


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:


We started by individually listing out all the 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 being addressed by our designs. We first prototyped the mobile design, making it easier to extend and add features when moving to a larger desktop screen rather than scaling down.

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


From quick sketching, we used Figma to produce low-fidelity prototypes. With low-fidelity prototyping, we were able to see how elements of our application would fit together. 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 function.


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 that promotes sustainable practices.


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