2017 Winner: Trash Toss

Project Information
Trash Toss
Less than 2% of the United States’ total waste is recycled each year. This is due to lack of care, time, and understanding. However, these issues can be solved with today’s upcoming technologies; about 91% of adults have cell phones, 56% of whom have smartphones, which makes mobile applications (apps) one of the fastest ways to reach a wide range audience. Therefore, it is possible to combat American people’s lack of care, time, and understanding about sorting by using a mobile app.
Trash Toss is a mobile app that aims to tackle these issues; it is currently being developed by an interdisciplinary team of students from University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC) through the IDEASS Light program. Among these students are Computer Science, Education, Environmental Studies, Latino Studies, Computer Science Game Design, and Games and Playable Media majors. The app will feature a game where players will have to sort their virtual waste within a certain amount of time; a user profile where they will have a daily log to keep track of and get rewarded for sorting their waste in real life; and resources and tips to help make waste management a little easier. These disciplines are coming together to create Trash Toss because each of the students involved believes in making a difference through interactive experiences.
The goal of Trash Toss is to design a play experience that will teach people how to properly sort their waste as well as what the consequences are through Cradle to Cradle design. For example, the bins in the in-app game are characters rather than actual bins. This is to create a connection between the player and the actions they are taking; by making the player take care of someone, they’ll want to make sure they do a good job, and therefore, sort correctly. Cradle to Cradle design are also reflected in character animation: the bins will take longer to chew on items that are more energy intensive. For example, the recycling bin will take longer to chew on a water bottle but will quickly chew and swallow cardboard. Many mobile apps already exist that attempt to teach users how to sort their waste. However, many of these apps do not successfully teach users how to do so in real life and fail to achieve user behavior change. However, Trash Toss will support sorting-related behavior change by providing users with proper resources for their sorting questions, rewarding them for sorting their waste in real life, and relating in-app behavior to real life behavior.
Trash Toss has been in development since late September and now has a playable prototype of the in-app game. The team has begun more in-depth research into the recycling process in order to gain inspiration for the story line and provide more accurate tips.
Trash Toss will start playtesting in mid April and will be released on Android in Spring 2017. Updates will be posted on our Twitter (@TrashToss), including when our website (trashtossmobile.com) is ready.
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  • Aubrey Lynn Isaacman (Porter)
  • Hesiquio Mendez Alejo (Oakes)
  • Nathan John Lie (Ten)
  • Grace Ko (Nine)
  • Linda Viet Nguyen (Crown)