A game-based application that reminds you to recycling once a week, create a checklist to help you recycle, learn how to categorize trash, try creative ways to reproduce and design your old stuff, as well as play a recycle game with your friends and neighbors.

What for? 

– Personal 2016 Thesis Project

Role Played?

– In charge of all design process: UX, UI, Interactive and Visual Design

Who Designed for?

– Boston area residents

Steps Performed?

– Research, Strategy, Storytelling, User Flow, Wireframe, User Testing, Solutions, Prototype

Problems Analysis

Every day every one person generates over 4 pounds of trash and around 1.5 tons of solid waste yearly. Further, Americans make more than 200 million tons of garbage every year. The EPA reports that 75% of the American waste stream is recyclable.

When looking at the American cities, San Francisco is boasting the highest recycling rate – 80%. The city requires San Francisco residents and businesses to properly sort recyclables from compostables and keep them out of the trash to landfill and place them in the proper collection containers.

However, comparing to San Francisco and other cities, Boston is a low performer of recycling since fewer than 1 in 5 pieces of household waste gets recycled, less than in other large cities around the USA.

Therefore, in order to educate and help people recycle more conveniently, as well as motivate more people to recycle, I planned to design a mobile app to help Boston improving recycling rate and approaching to zero waste.

  1. Research
  2. Strategies
  3. Storytelling (User Flow)
  4. Lo – Fi Wireframe
  5. User Testing & Analysis
  6. Solutions
  7. Finalize Visual & Interactive Design
  8. Further Design (Promotion Design, Infographic)
Research + Persona + Scenario

Before I started persona and scenario, I processed a regular survey about recycling to know more about my target users, how they usually behave concerning recycling in their life. The survey was also a way to know why some people cared about the environment but others not, how different neighborhood of Boston complied with recycling. Here are the results I got:

After I collected the research result, I came up with three personas and  typical scenarios about how each persona will use my app.

User Flow + Lo-Fi Wireframe

First – round User Testing

Visual Design

Name Origin

  1. As people who recycle, we live a recycling life.
  2. For items people recycle or reuse to make new products, we give “new life” to them.

Therefore, I named my app “Re-Life“.

Second – round User Testing

For the 2nd round of user testing, I tested different users from the first round’s in order to get the fresh and new feedback about both functional and visual aspects.

High – Fi Prototype
Walk – through DEMO

Promotion Design

When users raise their recycling levels to higher levels, there will be Thank-You gifts sent to them according to the recycling records in their Re-Life accounts. Below are some rewards I designed for Re-Life users,


Recycling Story Map

During both 1st and 2nd rounds of user testing, I was testing some international students from different countries. It was interesting that each student had a different reaction to recycling because recycling situation was unique. Here is the recycling situation in their countries they described.


Check out the RE-LIFE app website to know more details




January 3, 2017