After an investigation into how designers can strive to be more ethical in regard to the environment, Wasteland was created to serve as a sustainable subscription box that represents these principles and responds to concerns found in research about sustainable practices.
User Experience Design
Visual Identity Design
Students were asked to look into social topics they were interested in. I have always been interested in the environment, so I started there. My research on the climate portion of the project took 8 weeks to collect. My key findings were:
- The environment is at high risk and if our practices don’t change soon, the damage could be devastating.
- Microplastics degrade and hurt the environment and can make people sick.
- Not all plastics can be recycled due to environmental and economic reasons.
- It is better to reuse products than recycle them.
- The consumer often has little choice but to refuse plastic.
- Beverage bottles, plastic bags, and paper bags are among the most frequently found items polluting the ocean.
I then needed to start asking why. Why do we continue to pollute? Why are things not sustainable yet?
Since I could not interview an organization that actively pollutes, I researched why it occurs using a variety of sources. My findings were surprising.
- People live a disposable lifestyle which enables pollution.
- People use plastic because of cost, convenience, and energy efficiency.
- Most consumers would like to be more sustainable but are not given the option.
- Companies continuing to pollute are deeply disconnected from their users, this is often due to short-term thinking.
I mind-mapped all the things I found during my research process and then later extracted the main themes.
This helped me better focus on routes I could explore relating to the environment.
The themes extracted that I continued to incorporate for the rest of the project were:
- Money and Big Business
- Food and Drink Waste
- Consumer Opinions
I eventually was able to define the problem.
“How might we expand the options consumers have and restore choice in sustainable consumption?”
I got opinions from real consumers in my target audience.
I conducted an interview with a partner who was young and interested in the environment to gather a sense of how consumers viewed thought about sustainability. I learned:
- Sustainability is not one size fits all.
- It is hard to be sustainable when you are busy.
- Sustainable choices aren’t always accessible at every store.
- Everyone is guilty of making unsustainable choices.
From these learnings, I gathered the product needed to be:
- Highly accessible to all kinds of people
- Welcoming, without shaming users
I built a persona to better identify my target audience.
I wanted to cater to young people interested in becoming more sustainable but unsure how.
I mapped my market to decide where my brand to address my research findings would be best aligned. This was an exercise from IDEO about building a strong brand.
I wanted my brand to be genuinely sustainable and intervene with a concept/product rather than conceptually.
After brainstorming, I can up with five solutions to address my problem statement.
- Sustainability subscription box
- An interactive art piece that informs the public about sustainability.
- A shirt and bag brand that calls out big businesses on unsustainable practices.
- A workshop for consumers to become more sustainable.
- A workshop for businesses to become more sustainable.
I ultimately decided a sustainability subscription box could best address my research findings by being accessible, convenient, personalized, and welcoming.
Before I begin designing further, I to understand the user journey for a sustainability subscription box.
On the user journey, the user needs to be:
- Aware of how the product improves the environment
- What problems the environment is currently facing
- Pleasant and inviting the user to become sustainable rather than shame them for past unsustainability.
brand identity design
Branding the product drew upon graphic design knowledge of trends and what is appealing. I wanted the box to be eye-catching and youthful to reflect the target audience. I also wanted the materials included to be clear and easy to understand. I decided to demo the box for the season I was currently in, which was winter. However, I did not want the box to look too much like winter so products can be used year-round to prevent waste.
first iteration & user feedback
I presented my first iteration to users by showing them preliminary packaging concepts and sketches. I also explained what would be included in the box and how it would be used. User’s felt that:
- Color choice is a bit all over that place and some content clashes in style
- The bag sketch is too small
- The planner may not be necessary for a box like this
- Liked the cup and bag and could see that using both items regularly.
- The winter theme needs to be more pronounced in terms of products.
The final product is a box designed for winter 2021. It includes a sustainable cup, a large reusable shopping bag, and two Furoshiki-inspired cloth gift wraps. Ideally, the items would have been sourced from small sustainable businesses. However, for the presentation of this product, I created some mock items for the box. The design addresses my research findings by being:
It is able to be shipped anywhere in the world. This allows people without access to sustainable goods at local stores to participate in practices that are good for the environment.
The box can be ordered online to avoid the inconvenience that would be going out to a store and searching for products. It also finds the most sustainable items so consumers avoid the inconvenience and confusion of researching how they better be sustainable.
The box also includes a feature to reorder just one item. This allows the consumer to better customize the product to their needs.
The copyright is chosen strategically to invite users to use the box in a way that is unjudgemental.
The box breaks down what each item does to help the environment. This helps the public better understand the dangers the environment faces and how their using this box helps.
what is included
The cup comes from research about the incredible amount of drink products that are wasted every year. During winter, hot beverages from coffee shops are major contributors. My research found that saves 162 cups per year. To combat this the box includes a warm beverage coffee cup to give users the option to choose something more sustainable.
Wrapping Clothes (Furoshiki)
The Furoshiki wraps come from research on gift wrap paper and how much of it is made of plastic. To combat this, Furoshiki (a traditional Japanese way of wrapping gifts) can prevent more waste from being added to landfills. It is also appropriate for the winter season when many gift-giving holidays occur.
The reusable bag in this box is large to fit items from the grocery store or holiday shopping. It is branded neutrally so the bag can be used across seasons.
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