[CHALLENGE] User test a prototype app to promote reuse of household items

The aim of the challenge to take an initial prototype app that aims to promote reuse of household items and develop the user stories and other relevant specifications for developers to take the app to Minimum Viable Product (MVP) stage. With this, funding can be sought to bring the MVP to reality and begin piloting.

Problem: recycling is seen as ‘green’ but the waste hierarchy highlights that reuse is far better for the environment. Current reuse rates could be increased greatly. Unwanted items for reuse currently have two main routes: SELL (e.g. eBay) or GIVE AWAY (Freecycle, Freegle, Gumtree, etc.). In the latter category the tools are no longer fit for purpose, being dated and not user friendly. If the tools could be updated to be more mobile/time/location/user friendly, this will support greater reuse.

Solution: a mobile app displaying a mosaic of photographs (which provide intelligence on size, state, colour, etc.) of items to be given away. These would be sorted by location and searchable. Clicking on the photo allows messaging so that GIVER and GETTER can arrange a time/location to handover the item.

Vision: To allow people to flick through in a spare 2 minutes (in a queue, between meetings etc.) and arrange for a reuse transaction, saving things from landfill or vanilla recycling.

Current state: At this stage, the ‘app’ is a web application that requires Twitter as a login. It pulls tweets with @reuseapp and hashtag descriptions (e.g. #chair) of the item to be given away. The app also pulls geotag data from the tweet but currently this is not utilised in the ordering of the images. Clicking on a photograph allows messaging of the GIVER.
Current prototype as web application here: http://reuseapp.herokuapp.com/

Challenge aim: To test the current prototype, improve and refine the concept, then build out the required app user interface i.e. to the level of what buttons etc. and how a user would use a mobile version of the app. It should consider how the app might be used, what it needs to consider to make the model work in real life, etc.

Output: A well-documented set of specifications / instructions for a developer to be able generate the MVP.

Notes to be kept here: https://pad.oscedays.org/p/Cambridge_2016_Challenge_1

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Whilst this is a laudable solution, please consider this.

I have managed Hackney Freecycle for over 10 years. However, in the last two years, a number of things have happened:

  • Freecyle.org have declared another ‘Hackney Freecycle’ - so now there are two…
  • there is a ‘Hackney Freegle’
  • there are two Hackney re-use groups on the Facebook platform
  • there are other web-based platforms that offer sharing, such as Streetbank

My point is that your app could have only a limited impact - if it successful there may be dozens of players who will simply copy the idea.

Also do consider that on a good day, there could be up to 30 items to be posted. So if I log in weekly, would I choose to wade through 200 images of items? How would the items be taken down? On Freecycle it is common for items not to be marked as TAKEN.

It’s a great idea and I’d be interested in participating further! Good luck!!

@lesmoore thank you very much for your thoughts! These are exactly the type of comments I’m trying to collate and think about - the more practical elements. We ended up having a very interesting but rather conceptual discussion on the day (still need to type up my notes fully) so we didn’t quite get to the developer specs I wanted to get to.

In terms of your thoughts:

  • I’ve yet to come up with a good answer to the fragmented market in terms of platforms. That is actually what I’m trying to tackle here - you would not join a local community, it would be one continous geographical platform and the images you see would be purely based on how close they are to you (or potentially a location that you, say, commute to and could search for). That would hopefully stop the issue with having to sign up to Hackney, Dalston, Shoreditch, Poplar (I’m making these up but you get my point).
  • Copying the idea is also something I’d either a) be okay with if it increased reuse rates and/or b) potentially hand over the platform (rather than get copied) as long as someone had the drive/commitment to scale it. At this point, I don’t think I’m precious about it, ideally different platforms could talk together through something like this to create critical mass scale.
  • Sharing is again something that we’ve discussed - I saw this as a natural separate “tab” within the app. I’m also not opposed to a payment model if that was held up by appropriate demand (both for taking and sharing of stuff).
  • In terms of how an item would drop out, we discussed a few options e.g. a set timeline, an accept button (that removes the item and exclusively connects two peers), etc.
  • In an ideal world, the images are infinite so you flick down until you either get bored or the items are so far away from where you are that it means you’re not inclined to pick it up from a time/cost perspective or is fundamentally unenvironmentally friendly (which will drive some but not all folk).

I’m off on a bit of a world trip from tomorrow for a couple of months studying circular economy models so I may not be able to push this at the rate I wished. However, if you have any more thoughts or inclination to test the prototype, I’d be very receptive/appreciative of feedback! I’m starting to realise this won’t be quite as quick to get to a Minimum Viable Product as I first thought/hoped but for that, hopefully I will have taken into account more feedback.


http://www.app-camp.eu/#rules Not sure if this is good competition( with free travel) for this particular app, but it is for apps.)

With multiple platforms for sharing I noticed that people often just duplicate their stuff on all spaces available - so maybe if the app can do it for the user automatically ( things you posted in app gets advertised and freecycle, street bank, and FB) and take the hassle out then it would be great.


Yes, and have a look at OLIO - they just launched food sharing app, so maybe learn from their experience.
http://olioex.com/. And also many similar apps use points of trust, something we discussed about on the day.

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I’m not sure that adding more remoteness will increase participation. Maybe we need to use apps that build on and strengthen communities, be them communities of interest or location, rather than promote ‘meta-apps’. My evidence is that such apps are inhabited by professional grazers who hoover the most valuable items to resell on ebay etc. Whilst this in itself in the short termadd to rates of re-use, in the long term it degrades the brand.