Site-Specific XD:

Building Sustainable Habits in DUMBO

(February - May 2019)

Sustainability / Habit-building / Mobile App


Design Researcher, UX Designer (Solo)


Global warming is real, and we can design experiences that positively impact the lives of users in the long-term. 

︎︎︎Design a product or service that help stem the effects of climate change that is specific to DUMBO neighborhood.


SUSTAIN is a habit-building mobile application designed to encourage and integrate sustainable practices in the daily lives of professionals in DUMBO by rewarding them with experiences.

Final Presentation || App Demo


1. Secondary Research
2. Qualitative Research: Fly-on-the-wall, In-Depth Interviews
3. Synthesis: Findings & Insights
4. Ideation & Prototyping
5. Testing & Iterate
6. Final Deliverables (App Prototype, Presentation)


︎Users understand the relationship between consumption and waste. All of the respondents from my research wants to conserve, generate less waste, and live more sustainably overall.

︎Some of the habits the users have attempted are recycling, reducing single-use plastic, walking and not taking cars, and conscious fashion.

︎However, these efforts are often hindered by mainly inconvenience, cost (e.g. organic is often more expensive), access (i.e. no municipal composting in New York), and ingrained habit of using single-use/disposable items.

Persona & Journey Map:


Based on the research, the users are aware of the effects of climate change and want to have a sustainable lifestyle, and to do this, they need motivation and conveniency.


There were 2 prototypes I considered:

The first option is a habit-building app / journal that presents weekly challenges in order to help users live more sustainably.

The second option is a service design, partnering with businesses in the area to have a designated containers for edible food waste (e.g. bread, fruits)

After some preliminary testing with users, a lot of them expressed concerns (e.g. smell, crowd) with the second options and favored the habit-building app. 


Testing Feedback:

︎Non-monetary rewards, such as experiences (e.g. 1-hr urban gardening class), are seen as more valuable for millennials, as opposed to monetary rewards (e.g. 10% off coffee)

︎The psychology of habit formation is incredibly critical (e.g. Nike Run Club, Strava) and keeping the users engaged with a variety of challenge with a social feature (to show off progress) would motivate them further.

︎A reminder system is needed as many users expressed concerns over forgetting.

Based on the testing feedback, below are the key features of the app:

Have a nice day!