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Final Update: How to Form a New, Good Habit & Make it Stick. Product formats: 1) Interactive website prototype (V1 info architecture, V3 of the design), 2) Large printed wall magnet/sticker for schools, 3) And, eventually this can take on app format

What are habits? Habits are activities you perform consistently and typically on schedule. Habits don’t deplete the brain’s energy, therefore enabling the brain to focus its reserves on reviewing/solving other, more complicated aspects you confront during the day. To form a good habit like recycling, define the habit clearly so that it is achievable, pinpoint what parts of your day are already habitual, link your new habit (in a chain of events) to your current habits & start the habit forming in simple steps.

Photo of Leigh Cullen

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Explain your idea in one sentence

The product encourages/instructs users how to form good habits, including a "recycling at home” habit, and exists in two formats — an interactive website & large printed wall magnet/sticker for schools (and potentially will iterate into app format).
19 June 2014 Final Update:
One more update as of 19 June: Added a pdf of the proposal to the documents section of the post in case that is easier to digest. Included "Interviews & Alpha Testing" section. And fixed a few typos.
(Soft copy. Save trees. Don't print.)

I attached the information architecture to the downloads section of this post. 

Below is a product proposal/summary.




The product is a fun teaching tool that instructs people how to identify their current habits and how to form and sustain good, new habits. Special focus is given to building an at-home-recycling habit. 

Instruction builds on keystone habit recognition, setting cues and rewards, and realistic goal-setting. Customizable notifications–in the form of mobile texts, mobile calendar reminders, and email notifications–help cue and reward. Extrinsic and intrinsic motivational tools are incorporated to help inspire a user during the habit forming process, no matter at what stage of the process the user is in. Selecting a coach, joining a team, keeping a journal, and sharing goals/milestones via social media are encouraged to help keep habit forming motivation levels high.

Users have a wealth of habit forming and recycling resources and tools at their fingertips. Habit forming and recycling success stories are featured via the site's community in the form of "tiny wins" and "big wins." Anyone who is rearranging his/her life and schedule due to a "big life change moment"–an opportune time to form an at-home-recycling habit–can explore the site’s community, find people in similar situations, start discussions with them, and build habit forming teams with them. Examples of these "big change" community groups are new moms, anyone who is moving, anyone who is starting a new health regimen, and anyone who is trying to change a bad habit into a good habit. Users can post local recycling resources, tips, successful sustainable community initiatives, at-home-bin-hacks, and much more.


  1. Interactive/instructional website
  2. Large printed wall magnet (or removable wall sticker) of the 24 hour cycle & icons–aka the Toolkit for Schools
  3. App format 


  1. Interactive website: open to anyone who has web access; users must create a Profile to access the full feature set; certain features (like the Community feature) may have age-based restrictions 
  2. Wall magnet: geared for children; for teachers/schools and for parents to use at home; an alternate, &/or supplement, format to website; for low budgets
  3. App: open to anyone with a mobile device
Phase I: Interactive website & wall magnet
Phase II: App format (perhaps a responsive website vs developing separately for iOS, Android, etc.)
Marketing campaigns occur during all phases. See Marketing section below.

  1. Landing page
    • 24 hour cycle animation/simple demo
    • 24 hour cycle
    • recycling habit pre-populated in cycle (user can move/delete)
    • drag/drop icons onto cycle that represent your habits, non-habits, and sleeping time
    • label the cycle
    • share cycle via social media
    • print cycle
    • customize cycle color palette (based on pre-set palettes)
    • instructional based tutorial to guide users: how to use the cycle, about habits & about recycling at home (tutorial can be switched off and on)
    • introductory video
    • identify keystone habits
    • set cues for new habits
    • set rewards (extrinsic or intrinsic) for new habits 
  2. My Profile: Login via Facebook or email (for now). Includes bio, custom widget, contact info, and privacy settings. User can set privacy to public, team/coach, or private.
  3. 24 Hour Cycle Instances: Separate cycle instances for weekday & weekend since routines/schedule differ during those times.
  4. Notifications: In the form of cues, motivation, and rewards. Select mobile texts (like iPhone notifications), add to mobile calendar as reminders, &/or select email notifications. The goal is a no-fail approach. Notifications will applaud and motivate. Notifications can also incentivize in the case of sustainable brand partners. (See "Partners" section below.)
  5. Select a Coach: Select a coach or cheerleader–ie, a friend–to motivate you along the way.
  6. Join a Team: Join a team of 2-5 people and hold each other on track to achieve habit goals together. Research indicates small teams tend to motivate each other to reach goals.
  7. Chat: Chat with your team and/or coach.
  8. Keep a Journal: Share a habit journal with a team/coach. And add private comments (notes to yourself) to the team journal. Or keep a journal solely for your eyes only. Research indicates journaling helps habits stick. 
  9. Check the Calendar: Daily, weekly, monthly, yearly calendar to show goals, milestones, achievements at a glance. 
  10. Share via Social Media: Share your goals, milestones, and successes from your calendar to all of your social media networks. Your networks can cheer you on and celebrate with you. This can include taking Jes' "Waste Free Wednesday" pledge.
  11. Access the Community: Access the community to ask questions, to motivate yourself, to find a team, to gather recycling and habit tips, and to discover people who are going through similar life change moments.
  12. Customize: There will be pre-set color palettes you can choose from to colorize your 24 hour cycle. Customize your widget in your profile. In later phases of the product lifecycle, users may be allowed to upload their own icons for the 24 hour cycle. Phase I will provide a robust set of icons. Many of the icons are general enough that they can take on personal meanings to each user. To start, I'd tap into Nounproject's public-shared icons. I love to design icons, so I'd eventually like to populate out the icon library myself as well.
  13. About Habits: Detailed info about habits with sample success stories (like the Michael Phelps “tiny wins" story).
  14. About Recycling: 
    - A recycling icon dictionary.
    - Recycling terms defined.
    - Recycling bin info: at-home-hacks & ready-made solutions.
    - Successful/replicable sustainable community initiatives like this one:
    - Users can post local recycling resources/tips.
    - Links to other resources like:,, the Etsy community who is building out of recycled content, etc.
  15. Tools: 
    Tools to build and sustain at-home-recycling habits. 
    - Handouts that give guidance on how to form at-home-recycling habits (and other good habits) for companies/providers who work with people during big change moments in people’s lives (i.e., when people are changing their schedules/habits)—like moving companies (I’m moving), pediatricians (I’m a new mom), wedding planners (I’m getting married), universities (I now have an empty nest).
    -Possibly incorporate Priyanka’s sticker idea. 
    -Tie in Jes’ Waste Free Wednesday.
    -Possibly link to various OpenIDEO members products that ID what’s recyclable and where to recycle it.

  1. Landing page
    • 24 hour cycle animation/simple demo
    • 24 hour cycle
    • recycling habit pre-populated in cycle (user can move/delete)
    • drag/drop icons onto cycle that represent your habits, non-habits and sleeping time
    • label the cycle
    • share cycle via social media
    • print cycle
    • instructional based tutorial to guide users: how to use the cycle, about habits & about recycling at home (tutorial can be switched off and on)
    • introductory video
  2. Community
  3. About Habits
  4. About Recycling
  5. Tools

Geared for children. Large printed 24 hour cycle and icons that can be attached to walls (as either magnets or removable stickers). Teachers can instruct children on good habit forming and, specifically, how to build an at-home-recycling habit. Children can move the icons around on the cycle. Blank (dry erase) icons will be provided so that children can draw/explore habits themselves. 

Parents can use this format to teach their children at home.


Instructional pdfs would be provided to teachers as part of the toolkit. Teachers can tap into the website for further guidance/resources.

Same or similar feature set to the website. This could take on the form of a responsive website vs developing separately for iOS, Android, etc.

  1. Social media channels: Create social media channels using Facebook, Twitter/Vine, Linked In, Instagram, Google+, YouTube, etc to create viral campaigns, to promote success stories, to gather feedback, and to reach out to “big life change moment” groups
  2. Guerrilla marketing campaigns: one campaign idea is to (legally) draw a 24 hour cycle on pavement with chalk in a densely populated area. A set of habit icons could be moved around on the cycle by anyone curious enough to try out the cycle. An instructor could help give guidance. Idea inspired by: children’s pavement hopscotch + Europe’s life-sized, street chess games.
  3. NEA: Reach out to the NEA (National Education Association) to try to get US (since I’m based in the US) schools involved. 
  4. Local schools/teachers: Approach local teachers/schools to start at grassroots level. 
  5. Sustainable brands: Would reach out to companies who have sustainable brands, like Coca-Cola and IKEA, to see if they’d like to plug and repurpose the 24 hour cycle based on their brand mission. Partnering with sustainable brands who have powerhouse marekting teams would definitely get the word out in many creative ways. (See Partners below.)
  6. Success stories: Would share individual users’ tiny & big successes via social media (as permitted). 
  7. Pair up with other OpenIDEO members who have great ideas for implementing other recycling challenge products.
  8. Post at bus stop 
    Post in dorms 
    Post at gas stations
    Post in apartments/condos community area 
    Post in grocery stores, etc…

Sustainable brands can partner with the site/product and can customize the 24 hour cycle experience according to the brand, and can offer incentives to consumers. Example: Steve records that he successfully home recycled today on his calendar. He’s met his goals for an entire week. Coca-Cola could send Steve a notification congratulating him on his success and could reward/incentivize him with a free Coke. 

Would love to plug in a bunch of sustainable brands to the product so that users can interact with the brands and gain a variety of incentives for recycling.

Approximately 26-30 people were interviewed. Group 1 was interviewed on their daily at-home-recycling habits & other personal habits. Group 2 alpha tested the first prototype of the website landing page.

Group 1 recycling feedback: At one end of the spectrum is the composter/recycler who is aggravated that his current city does not have an adequate composting program. At the other end of the spectrum is one non-recycler who just isn’t interested in recycling at all. The bulk of those interviewed fall into the category of, “I recycle some and would recycle more if I knew how/where to do it. The recycling system and logos/icons confuse me.” No one had considered purchasing nice storage systems and repurposing them into home recycling bins. Only one person commented that he has a pretty set of home recycling bins.

Group 1 daily habits feedback: Most people interviewed had never considered their habits in any depth. Two people were well versed on the effect of positive habits, discussed why they are interested in habits (to be successful and to change a habit), and suggested interesting habit reading materials. Most people have a set of evening habits that they perform at home which is a prime time to insert a recycling habit. Generally speaking, people's interest in recycling spiked when they heard about the potential of successful personal habits.

Group 2 had no previous awareness of the research topics discussed with Group 1. Group 2 alpha tested the first website landing page prototype. Everyone ignored the static, introductory habits/recycling message on the right side of the screen. They immediately started playing with the 24 cycle and icons and asked me more about habits. Feedback recorded here:

During all interviews conducted, people became genuinely intrigued when they find out habits are 40-45% of their day and that they can shape habits to achieve greater success. People love the Michael Phelps “tiny habits” success story because it paints a clear picture of the potential of good habits. The topic of recycling becomes more interesting to people when it is tied into the habit discussion. Nearly everyone asked to keep the 24 hour cycle worksheet. Just 2 returned it. Only 1 out of 26-30 people indicated they aren't really interested in recycling.

The 24 hour cycle prompted people to "play," a positive. So, I reiterated the prototype to allow people to immediately start interacting with the cycle -- via a learn-as-you-go instructional approach, ie learn about habits and recycling while you learn how to play with the 24 hour cycle itself.

  • Current global recycling system iconography and meanings
  • Current recycling system terminology
  • Successful sustainable brands & their brand/marketing techniques
  • Consumer sustainability studies 
  • Interviewed people on their recycling habits
  • Successful community recycling projects - see North Carolina post
  • Recycling bin studies into at-home-hacks & repurposing ready-made storage solutions

  • Dr. B.J. Fogg’s extensive research on habits and motivation
  • Michael Kim’s habit design research
  • Charles Duhigg’s habit research
  • Intrinsic vs extrinsic motivation
  • Peer/group habit forming
  • The keystone habit of journaling
  • Tiny successes/habits techniques
  • Other habit forming techniques - like cues/rewards, tag teaching, positive vs negative reinforcement
  • Interviewed people on their 24 hour day, their recycling habits (and other habits & non-habits)

  • Cognitive behavioral psychology (as a source of motivation)–this is being used in the website copy
  • Motivational interviewing techniques including normative messaging (as a source of motivation)–this is being used in the website copy
  • Big life change moments (targeting moments in life when people experience big life changes and assess their schedules—prime time to insert a recycling habit)

PRODUCT DESIGN sources of inspiration:
  • Inspired by Blik re the wall magnet / removable wall sticker idea
  • Current gaming (and incentive gaming) techniques inspired the customizable 24 hour cycle
  • for extensive recycling resources
  •'s tutorial based instruction (web and app)

Etsy - creative recycled/upcycled products
Upcyclethat - creative recycling resource
Reddit - group/topic based functionality
General viral and guerrilla marketing techniques (Coca-Cola as a major source of inspiration)

Special thanks to Bettina who helped interview folks about their recycling and personal habits & who generated awesome ideas along the way.

And big thanks to Meena, Paul, Karoline, and Jes who offered cool tips, suggestions, and resources!

18 June 2014 Updates:
Uploaded the information architecture that demos web app (website) functionality & scope. 

ps. if the flow chart isn't legible in the graphics section, let me know and I'll upload to the "Additional Files" section of the post.

The flow chart shows a breadth of functionality. Scope can always start small.

Have not had chance to add in how sustainable companies can partner with the site and create their own branded instances/experiences of the 24 hour cycle, and offer incentives to those who are forming good at-home-recycling habits. Though I did add graphic samples in the image section of this post that demos that idea.

For those who don't have easy access to the web, or who prefer not to use the web, a printed version of the cycle will be available -- wall magnet / removable sticker format. This is a format also available for schools.

Disclaimer: I haven't had a chance to proofread the flow chart yet. Please laugh at any typos if they are funny. But wanted to go ahead and post since deadline's fast upon us!

Check out my last post (in comments section) for functionality explained in more depth.


16 June 2014 Updates:
Explanation of what formats the product will exist in.

An update (in graphics section of post) with further iterations of landing page UI/UX/ID. 8 new graphics. And notes below explaining the UI/UX updates.

Includes a (graphic) demo of how a sustainable brand like Coca-Cola can partner with the site to customize the cycle in the Coke brand & connect with consumers via incentives/rewards for achieving sustainable (recycling) habit milestones.


Open to anyone with internet access. The site encourages and instructs individuals and teams how to form good habits, including a "recycling at home" habit. (The photos posted show the interactive landing page.)

Users will be taken through the process of identifying their habits and keystone habits, creating new (or changing old) habits, selecting cues and appropriate rewards, selecting coaches and/or teams, and setting up notifications.

Anyone can fill in their habits and non-habits in the 24 hour cycle. Anyone can print the cycle. And, anyone has access to recycling information (a recycling icon dictionary, "what is" recycling, at-home-hack info, and more), along with detailed habit information and tools.

If a user saves the 24 hour cycle and creates a profile, s/he unlocks a robust feature set including access to mobile and email notifications (habit cues & rewards), weekly/monthly calendar (to assess personal progress), a journal (helps habits stick), teams/coaches (to get inspired by others & form good habits together), sharing progress via social media (for extrinsic reward seekers), access to a community (to ask questions and gain inspiration), and more...

Companies could partner with the site, create their own branded instances of the site, and promote sustainability and good habit forming along with their own products. For instance, Coca-Cola could brand the 24 hour cycle in Coke style and offer free Coke vouchers (incentives) to anyone who successfully achieved recycling (and other habit) milestones.

Teachers can still use the interactive website and set up 24 habit (and recycling) cycles for individual students, or can group students into teams. Teams could eventually compete with other schools.

There is also a printed format available for teachers/schools and for anyone who doesn't have easy computer access. Specifically the format is a large (removable) wall sticker or wall magnet in the design of the 24 hour cycle. It includes a set of sticker/magnet habit icons. There are also blank icons, so that children can personalize specific habits. 

Examples below of removable wall stickers & wall magnets for children. The 24 hour cycle graphic and icons are a perfect fit for this format:

3) APP:
The website enables mobile notifications and links to calendar reminders. Eventually the product could take on an app format.

Social media/viral marketing:
A marketing campaign will evolve to promote this across social media channels.

A grassroots effort will try to launch this in local schools. I'd start by targeting K-12.

Colleges/unis are applicable as well, but a second wave approach would target that. A colleague is helping me test this in a college environment. She wants her college aged cousin to present this at school.

I'd also reach out to the NEA (National Education Association).

Guerrilla marketing:
Trying to come up with a creative idea to guerrilla market this.

Big companies are welcomed to partner on this to get the word out!

Additional promotional/launch strategies:
  • Approach local schools
  • Promote during the New Year -- during New Year’s resolution mania (per Jes & Bettina's ideas)
  • Promote on Mondays (per Jes’ idea) when people are more ready to change:
  • Approach Mommy bloggers - target new mom’s who are updating their schedules
  • Approach companies who target big life change moments (when people rearrange their schedules) - like, moving companies (move to a new city and change your schedule) and healthcare providers (new mom, new schedule)…
  • Also target empty nesters (what am I going to do with my new free time), moving in with college roommates (let’s set up a recycling station)...
  • Post info in community areas - in dorms, apartments, condos, Starbucks…

Sidenote: The pdfs attached to this post aren't the actual product prototype. They function as information gathering/research tools.

PROTOTYPE V3 (8 new graphics in images section of post)

I fleshed out parts of the tutorial / interactivity a user will engage with when viewing the site for the first time. The copy, UI, and color scheme have to be refined. But, it gives an idea of the direction I’m heading.

Note that upon initial view, there will be a simple animation that shows icons being placed on the 24 hour cycle and the wheel being colorized based on habits and non-habits. The user then can access a short video on the first prompt, if they wish. The video will use a tangible example of successful habit forming (possibly the Michael Phelps example) since people are inspired and interested even more after hearing a success story. The video will also highlight home recycling as a good habit to form.
Also attached are two images of the site in (rough) Coca-Cola brand. This is to show how sustainable brands can partner with the site/product and can customize the experience according to the brand, and can offer incentives to consumers. I’d love to plug in a bunch of sustainable brands to the product so that users can interact with the brands and gain incentives. (The UI/UX is still rough in these examples. It’s my first dive into the expanded feature set UI/UX.)
If one doesn’t have access to a computer or mobile, then the print version can be used in schools and community centers that have after school activities for children.

15 June 2014, Digital prototype *Version 2* (animated landing page) uploaded. See 2 new images posted, and the below post.

Started iterating Prototype 1 based on user feedback. In sum, the V1 user feedback was to:
  1. ignore copy
  2. immediately play around with the 24 hr cycle and icons
  3. ask general questions about habits
(See in depth user feedback in comments section of this post - in a reply to Meena.)


  • brings the 24 hr cycle & interactivity forward, while eliminating ignored introductory copy
  • the goal has become: start playing immediately and learn about habits and recycling as you go
  • removed the “steps” from the upper nav & simplified the upper nav (for the time being)
  • integrates tutorial (user instructions on how to use the cycle/icons) with information on habits
  • added a title to the cycle to identify what the cycle represents (24 hours)
  • the recycle icon will be added to the user’s cycle by default. User can move or delete.

This version incorporates user feedback from 8 people who had no prior familiarity with the project.

Upon first view, the user is prompted to immediately play with the cycle, and to learn about habits and recycling as they go. The tutorial is set up to instruct how to use the tool while teaching the user about habits/recycling (similar to a Codecademy tutorial approach).

The version is still rough. V2 is focused on high level functionality. I've started to dive down into advanced feature set functionality (like calendars, journals, notifications, community, recycling/habits page) via flow chart and wireframes. But, want to nail down the 24 hr cycle interactivity as my first step. Am trying to make that interactivity as simple and intuitive as possible. (Please don't focus on color, specific icons, or exact wording yet.) Will user test this version this week.

There’s something intriguing about the play of words:
My (24 hour Life) Cycle

The word “cycle” is in all of the above. Am brainstorming creative “cycle” based titles, while making the importance of the recycling component of the site just as important as the habit forming component.


1: “Welcome! Let’s jump right in. What time does your day start?”
User: enters time, specifies AM/PM, and clicks the check mark
Interaction: The cycle populates the start time at the top of the cycle.
Note: V3 will allow user to reposition start time to any of the 24 hour points on the cycle.
2: “Ok, great. We entered your 7AM start time here.”
 Interaction: The dialog box points to 7AM on the cycle. User can “Change” the time. OR the user can proceed, and:
3: “Now select an icon that represents a habit you perform daily.”
User: Selects an icon.
Interaction: A prompt appears that explains habits simply.
(Rough) Prompt: “Habits account for 40-45% of our 24 hour day. Get your habits right and you will reach your goals and lead a more balanced life. So, what are habits? Habits are activities you perform consistently and typically on schedule. Habits don’t deplete the brain’s energy, therefore enabling the brain to focus its reserves on reviewing/solving other, more complicated aspects you confront during the day. Habits can be clear and obscure. For example, a routine of drinking coffee while catching up on news, bathing, packing lunch, taking your kids to the bus stop, and commuting to work is a clear chain of habits. A more obscure habit is taking time out of your day to breathe deeply to relax, or to take a moment and reassess your schedule. So, start entering your habits onto the cycle. Button: Learn More. (“Learn More” will take user to section on site with detailed info about “Habits” – the Habits link in the Upper Nav navigates user to the same place.)
User: Selects icon and drops it onto cycle.
ROUGH from here on down --------------
4: “Well done! Now label your habit. Be sure to label all habits and non-habits that you enter on your 24 hour cycle. Edit at any time by clicking on your labels or by deleting/replacing icons.”
User: Labels icons & drag/drops more icons onto the cycle
5: “Finished entering your habits? If yes, color code the habit portions of your day by drag/dropping a color from the palette on your right onto the cycle where your habits are located.”
User: Drag/drops colors. Or, can customize palette colors with preset palettes.
-------------- (very rough)
6: “Great job! Now, enter your non-habits and sleep portions of your day.”
7: “Well done. Now think about what new, good habits you’d like to acquire. Are there any bad habits you’d like to change? It’s easier to change a habit into a new habit than develop a completely new habit from scratch. As an example, let’s start with home recycling….
8: “Be sure to save your work!”
9: “Now let’s add CUES to your new habits.” (Add 2-4 cues to new habit.)
9: “Now let’s identify REWARDS.” (Intrisic or extrinsic.)
10: “Do you want select a COACH to cheerlead you on? Do you want to JOIN A TEAM?”…

An icon in this library can represent anything to anyone. That’s perfectly fine, and that's the goal. Ie, icons aren't limited to one meaning.

The icon library provided will be robust from the start. Users also have the ability to label each icon they use & to label each hour within the 24 hour cycle to provide further reminders for themselves.
A user could potentially upload an icon, but the uploaded file would have to follow very specific size and file type constraints (so that it populates in the cycle correctly and takes on the correct palette). That feature would potentially appear in later versioning.

1 – Web *basic*:
For anyone with web access. Can fill in the cycle/labels. Can print and share via social media, but who does not save. Does not have access to advanced features like My Profile, My Journal, My Calendar, Notifications (mobile texts, mobile calendar, email), Team, Coach, Advanced Community. Has access to info About Habits, About Recycling, Tools.

2 – Web *full feature set*:
For anyone with web access. Can fill in cycle/labels and saves (ie, creates a Profile). Has access to everything the site offers.

3 – Mobile: either a web > mobile version can be created. Or an actual app. The circle would need some rethinking because content would not be easily viewable in a circle on such a small screen. I think I know how to make that work.

4 – Schools: schools can use web version and/or an alternate version. More on this coming...

Via notifications (advanced feature) per each user – one function of notifications is rewarding a user as s/he reaches milestones. Notifications can be set up via mobile texts, via mobile calendar reminders, and/or via email.
Via logging milestones/goals on weekly & monthly calendar (advanced feature).
Via journal (advanced feature). User records progress. Research indicates journals help habits stick.
Promoting user success stories, no matter how small, on the site.

The product has social media channels across Twitter/Vine, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Linked In, and a blog. User success stories can be shared there as well as on the site.
Via the site's Community. Users can share their stories and ask for help from a global community achieving habits together.
Via Teams (advanced feature). User can join a team that strives to achieve habits together.
Would leverage social media to create viral campaigns.
Would try to brainstorm guerrilla marketing campaigns.
Would reach out to the NEA (National Education Association) to try to get US (since I’m based in the US) schools involved.
Would approach local schools to start at grassroots level.
Would reach out to companies who have clear sustainable brands, like Coca-Cola and IKEA to see if they’d like to plug and repurpose based on their brand mission. (I saw a McDonald’s commercial recently that mentioned “tiny successes/habits” as eating McD’s food…)
Would share individual users’ tiny successes via social media (as allowed by each user).
Ideas that require permissions and/or funding:
Post at bus stop (Bettina’s idea)
Post in dorms
Post in apartments/condos community area
Post in grocery stores, etc…


8 June 2014, Digital prototype (animated landing page) & general functionality explained. See 4 new images posted, and the below post.

This weekend I designed (a first iteration of) the animated landing page for the digital Habit Calendar prototype. Instead of uploading the information architecture (which I'm still working through & which is visually unexciting--it's a flow chart...) I wanted to upload a visual of how this idea is starting to come together...

Decided to let the calendar lead -- as an enticing, colorful, animated, fun visual -- to motivate the user to take the calendar for an immediate spin. I'd originally considered leading in with a series of motivational interview / behavioral psych questions to direct each user down a specific path, but realized that the calendar itself is a strong hook. It's like a board game. Am hoping the visual cue prompts one to "play!"

I then incorporated some normative/social psych messaging: "Habits account for 40-45% of our 24 hour day. Get your habits right and you will reach your goals and lead a more balanced life. Identify your habits and join all those who are building better lives for themselves and a better Earth while they are at it." Bettering the Earth refers to recycling. I'd prefer not to cover the icon bank with the messaging, but for now that's where it landed. The messaging will disappear as soon as the user clicks "Get Started." Definitely didn't want messaging to cover the calendar itself. The icon bank will be animated and will populate the 24 hour cycle upon user's initial view of the page. -- The animation acts as a visual tutorial for the user on how to use the calendar.

Step 1 directs the user to fill in the calendar with habits and non-habits. The user can print the calendar. But, the calendar won't save if the user doesn't "Save" it.

  1. Step 1 - fill in and print out the calendar. Notice that the recyling icon is front/center in the icon bank. I'm thinking through how that icon will interact with the user. Is it a mandatory "move this icon onto your calendar." I think this can be achieved with the right message.
  2. Habits Defined - detailed info about Habits
  3. Show Me Examples - a couple of visual examples of successful 24 hr calendars AND a few written examples including the Michael Phelps "tiny successes" example
  4. Me + Recycling - a lot of info on recycling. Includes (and not limited to) recycling icon dictionary - simplified version, Meena's idea of "in-home-hacks," ready-made storage system/bin solutions, recycling incentive programs, ways to figure out how/where to recycle, and other general info about recycling (tbd). 
  5. Tools - habit and recycling tools. This includes questionnaires/toolkits (sample 24 hr cycles) for specific personas and those who are going through big life changes, like "I'm a new mom and rethinking my schedule," "I'm moving and rethinking my sched," "I'm starting a new health regimen and rethinking my sched/habits..." Bettina had the idea of distro'ing these kits to POS companies like a moving company, or to a pediatrician's office, or to gyms/health trainers. Other tools can also include Priyanka's sticker idea that acts as home cues (print out stickerse from site).

If a user creates a Profile, s/he can access a more robust set of features. Create a profile in one of two ways: 1) user "Saves" his calendar or 2) clicks on the far left profile button of the upper nav bar. The feature set includes:
  1. Fill in PROFILE INFO. Includes bio, contact info, and privacy settings. User can set privacy to public, team, or private.
  2. CUSTOMIZE the colors of your calendars (there will be pre-set color palettes you can choose from) & customize your profile widget.  
  3. CREATE INSTANCES of your 24 hr calendar–for weekday and weekend.
  4. NOTIFICATIONS in the form of cues & rewards. Select mobile texts (like iPhone notifications), add to mobile calendar as reminders, &/or email. The goal is a no-fail approach. Notifications will applaud and encourage as necessary.
  5. JOURNAL / MONTHLY CALENDAR to track your progress over time.
  6. SELECT A COACH or a cheerleader–ie, a friend–to motivate you along the way.
  7. JOIN A TEAM of 2-5 people and hold each other on track to achieve goals together.
  8. CHAT with your team or coach via live messaging.
  9. Access the COMMUNITY (anyone who has a profile can post to the community) to further motivate you.
  10. Share via SOCIAL MEDIA. Share your milestones, wins, and goals with your favorite social media sites. This could include taking Jes' "Waste Free Wednesday" pledge.

A quick download follows: Children are believers. Children like helping animals, people, and the environment. They seek out positive feedback.  Teachers can teach the Habit Cycle in class. Each child can create his/her own 24 habit cycle with help from his/her teacher and/or can pair up in groups/teams at school to learn about habits. This is something children can take from school and update at home as they get older and graduate from grade to grade. I'll work through this idea and post more...

  1. (Generally) for anyone: anyone at home can use.
  2. For children/schools: Can be used in school and at home for children. Teachers instruct children (see above note about this).
  3. For Millenials: Millenials tend to like to do things in groups. I created a "team" feature that allows people to group up and build successful habits (including a successful recycling habit) together.
  4. For those who prefer intrinsic motivation: User can set up notifications geared toward intrinsic motivation techniques -- like an iPhone notification/reward that says, "Well done Jake. Pat yourself on the back. The Earth thanks you for recyling that."
  5. For those who prefer extrinsic movitation: User can select a friend to become their coach/cheerleader. And user can post to social media to receive external support.
  6. For those who like a mix of intrinsic/extrinsic motivation: Can set up a mix of #4 and #5.
  7. For big change moments and companies that target them. Here's a list of big change moments Bettina and I generated: The Empty Nest - when the kids are all off to college, moving house, having a baby, getting married, starting college, starting out on one's own after college, moving in with roommates, spring cleaning, job change, getting over a major injury. Leverage companies (realtors, moving companies, pediatricians/hospitals) that provide tools and services during these moments to hand out 24 hr cycle/recycling questionnaires/info. The prompt is: You're rescheduling/rearranging your life, so why not add recycling into that and assess your habits while you're at it.
  8. I can see this also taking on an app format. Think in terms of fitness apps that track your health. This could become an app that tracks your healthy habits. And I can see how this could tie into something like Rob's idea of a recycling social network - post your recycling habit status update.

  • The prototype incorporates the max functionality that comes to my mind. Dreaming big :) That said, the prototype can start simple and evolve based on resources, time, and any contributing partner's related desire/skill-sets (to help develop the project's robust feature set to fruition). I'll continue to design out the prototype UI/UX/ID/features/functionality and will build the information architecture.
  • I have a chunk of research about keystone habits, cues, rewards, and behavioral psych am organizing and will add to this post this week. (Thanks to Bettina for motivational interviewing and normative/social psych info!)
  • I've been performing interviews for a week -- using the 24 hr cycle & recycling questionnaires. Bettina has also been interviewing folks. (Special call out to Bettina: Thank you!!  Look forward to seeing what you've captured.) I'll organize/add insights from our interviews to this post this week.
  • I'm working on a more in depth post about the toolkit geared to children/teachers.
Feedback welcomed!

1 June 2014, Various updates. Be sure to view the first prototype (3 attached pdfs). Feedback welcomed.

Update 1:   Observations / additional research that will facilitate prototyping this habit-forming tool:

Struck up a conversation with a (now retired) young children’s teacher who has a background in cognitive behavioral psychology–and who studied creativity. I’m going to borrow some of her behavioral psych books to further educate myself. We chatted about:

Cognitive behavioral psychology –
this ranks as one of the more successful techniques to prompt sustainable change in a person’s behavior. A person uses goal-setting and problem-solving to assess the behavior s/he wants to change, and then takes a series of simple steps to make the change. The process involves clearly, specifically identifying the desired change and then strategizing the doable steps required to make the change. Some people have high motivation and can make the change easily. Other people have to chat it all out and take small steps. In tough behavioral change situations, it’s best to remove the person from the current environment that causes the unwanted behavior (if possible).

Tag teaching – a technique based upon B.F. Skinner’s research into the science of behavior and operant conditioning. Simply stated, tag teaching is “clicker training.” Meaning a person is rewarded with the sound of a click (and potentially other rewards) as they perform all parts of the newly learned behavior correctly. Examples are teaching a child how to tie his shoe and teaching a gymnast proper form on a move. The goal is that the person instantly visualizes (versus thinking through in depth) the behavior and performs it correctly. If the person doesn’t receive the “click” then s/he knows that s/he did not tie the shoe properly or that her form was incorrect on her backhandspring. Another way to look at it is that a simple (“crispy”) visual or audio cue triggers the routine (habit), and then a reward instantaneously follows. The cue relates to one simple action. If you can anchor the cue to another habit, that’s even better. The cue and routine must be tied closely together. Focus is on mastery of habit in small steps. An example of this that  B.J. Fogg gives is that every time the phone rings it triggers him to do a few one-leg squats. Then Fogg builds up the number of squats he performs each time the cue occurs (phone rings).  Note that Skinner’s research points out that rewarding the behavior every time is not effective in creating a sustainable behavior/habit.

Negative reinforcement – It’s the concept uses. A person is punished for not changing his behavior. An example would be a person loses $10 each time he doesn’t meet a milestone in the behavior he wants to change. The collective money is then sent to someone he has designated to receive it each time he fails. Negative reinforcement tends to be used to reshape profoundly negative behaviors. Interesting research, but I prefer to use positive reinforcement in this prototype. 

Versed myself more in Dr. B.J. Fogg’s research on “motivation waves” and Michael Kim’s analysis of "habit design." Collectively they reveal the following:
  1. Almost 50% of our daily lives is habitual.
  2. Willpower is expendable, but renewable.
  3. It’s hard to measure willpower in a day to day context. If you lack willpower it usually means you are exhausted.
  4. Motivation waves are comprised of peaks and troughs. Troughs are the state Dr. Fogg thinks a person primarily exists in. Troughs are habitual states (routines). Motivation waves are peaks of willpower where one can accomplish hard tasks. Once a person dips to a trough, s/he can’t perform a difficult task. Dr. Fogg suggests the troughs/habits are the areas to target. Ie, you can’t get a person to exist in a state of perpetual motivation.
  5. The science of “tiny wins” goes far. Michael Phelps coach trained him this way. Meaning Michael’s day was constructed in a series of small wins before he competed. His practice runs were set up as wins, the music he listened to was in win-mode, etc, so by the time he was scheduled to compete his mind was in a solid win state. 

  1. Fundamentally we’re trying to convince people that recycling is important.
  2. A series of tiny successes (positive routines) can go a long way in sustaining a larger behavior change that is pinned to the series of tiny successes. Trust that tiny habits grow.
  3. Guide people in creating structured behaviors.
  4. Focus on learned routine.
  5. Start small (the starting point is never too tiny), be specific (“crispy”) in stating the habit you want to form, find an anchor (to attach the new habit), celebrate immediately. The more tiny habits you create, the better you become at the habits. It builds "success momentum" which propels you into achieving even greater habits.
  6. BJ Fogg’s statement: “After I (routine), I will (tiny behavior).
  7. B.J. Fogg’s statement: “Facilitate (not motivate) behavior change.”
  8. It’s a bonus if you can make the routine/habit the actual reward.
  9. Can you make the reward social - since the young generation is social network oriented.
  10. Peer/group habit-forming is something to consider.
  11. Motivation is different from person to person. Some are intrinsically motivated. Others are extrinsically motivated. You have to take this into consideration when building out behavior change plans.
  12. If a person is in a high motivation wave you can get them to structure/prompt the behavior again in the future (like prompting a person to call a physical trainer and schedule the trainer to come to his house every day). Most people are not like this. Since most people are in habit mode, start with baby steps (like have the person select (not purchase) his favorite pair of running shoes online as a first step).
  13. Getting a person to do something that makes the habit easier down the line increases a person’s capabilities/abilities to perform the habit. An example would be trying to eat healthy, buying veggies at the grocery, and immediately cleaning/cutting them up. Then, it’s easy to prompt the habit of eating the veggies throughout the week if one doesn’t want to spend the time to wash/cut them up at that time.
  14. Never let a person fail.
  15. Computers are “persuasive technology.” Best example is Facebook. Person posts and immediately gets a “click”/like reward (see tag teaching above). Facebook becomes habitual because a person is socially rewarded for each post.

This research has given me a few ideas on how to evolve the first habit cycle prototype. Will post those new ideas on 2 June or 3 June when fleshed out a bit...


Update 2:
Uploaded first prototype. Prototype includes 3 pages:
  1. Habit questionnaire
  2. Recycling questionnaire
  3. How to Form A Recycling Habit in 5 Easy Steps handout (functions as a visual talking point during live interviews & as a leave-behind so people can continue to think about habit forming and recycling)

Attached prototype in pdf format. And included pics of the prototype in the images section of this post.

My goal with this first prototype is:
  1. to interview friends, colleagues, family members, and people I've just met about their typical 24 hour day and how recycling and their habits fit into those 24 hours.
  2. to educate in a friendly way–to suggest how to form a recycling habit in 5 steps, to discuss recycling resources, to talk about at home hacks and ready-made bin solutions.
  3. to test the prototype to see if it's user friendly, to test how verbal questions are best framed during live discussion, and to gather feedback/suggestions in order to update the prototype.

Update 3:
Added team members. Welcome Bettina Fliegel and Karoline K!

Bettina has great suggestions around "motivational interviewing techniques" and "big life change events" around which to target recycling habit forming materials, like: I'm A New Mom, My Nest Is Empty, I Just Moved, I Have A New Health Regimen... Will incorporate more of that research into this post as it's fleshed out.

Karoline K has the super idea to make this prototype customizable. Am thinking through what type of tool that could manifest itself as. Open to suggestions!

24 May 2014, Two updates:
See below idea from Karoline (in comments section of this post) about creating a customizable tool to aid users in habit formation. Love this idea. Brainstorming how it can be done -- perhaps an online, interactive discovery tool... maybe send texts or calendar items to one's smartphone reminding one to recycle for incentives... Had originally thought about developing a soft copy/pdf with 24 hour day cycles for specific personas (like a Mom-On-The-Go, University student, single young professional, sports enthusiast, etc). This would give ideas on how to insert a recycling habit into the day. Though, it's not as exciting as Karoline's idea.--Open to ideas on what type of customizable tool to build!

Simplified Recycling Iconography/Language–Customizable To Any Brand
Trying to build a refreshed set of recycling symbols with directional & motivational langauge. Also potentially updating the Tidyman symbol to a superhero icon as a way to engage children.

May 23, 2014 update:
Attractive Recycle Bin Designs for Any Space & Any Style (DIY or Ready-Made)
Repurpose all kinds of storage systems into home recycling systems. Suggestions for small spaces, DIY projects with the kids, and a variety of options provided for different stylistic preferences. Engourages posting successful, simple at home hacks online, so others can replicate.

May 19, 2014 update:
Making Our Part of the Universe a "Happiverse"–Coca-Cola Reverse Vending Machines
A guerrilla marketing campaign. Recycle at your local Coca-Cola vending machine and join a global recycling social network. Compete for points and earn incentives for recycling.

Initial idea forming here:
Build At Home Hacks, draft Recycling Habit Toolkit, partner with, develop Recycling Curriculum+Contest, identify Local Recycling Repositories, and launch Coca-Cola Recycling/Happiness Guerilla Campaign

Get inspired
Get inspired by a North Carolina community here who discovers how to create new jobs, provide startup assistance, aid the arts and endangered plantlife all via a recycled landfill

Get inspired by the Etsy community's recycled and upcycled products here. Check out the vinyl record upcycled into an LED Star Wars clock and the circuit board Steampunk earrings...

What are habits? Habits are activities you perform consistently and typically on schedule. Habits don’t deplete the brain’s energy, therefore enabling the brain to focus its reserves on reviewing/solving other, more complicated aspects you confront during the day.
How do you form a new, good habit and make it stick?
  1. Define what habit you want to acquire clearly so that it's achievable. Ie, “I want to recycle plastic, glass & newspaper at home.” Don’t make a lofty statement that can feel unachievable and discourage you like, “I have to recycle anything that’s recyclable every day of my life.”
  2. Pinpoint parts of your day that are already habitual – like a morning routine of drinking coffee while catching up on news, bathing, packing lunch, taking your kids to the bus stop, and commuting to work. Attaching a new habit to a chain of current habits is easier to do than forcing a new habit into parts of your day when your brain is trying to focus on deeper issues.
  3. Decide within which part of your habit cycle makes most sense to add your new habit. Recycling often occurs in a kitchen or in a garage. Then, link recycling to any habits you perform in your kitchen or garage.
  4. Start small and simple. Instead of trying to recycle everything you come in contact with during the day, start by promising yourself you will recycle the plastic water bottles you use today. Then slowly build up.
  5. Focus on your achievements. Don’t psych yourself out and quit the habit if you miss performing the habit once in a while. Life happens. Just keep at it.

Question riffing / Things to consider:
What are the barriers to recycling? What causes lack of personal motivation to recycle? Does recycling seem too complex based on all the types of recyclable materials? Is information about local recycling opportunities/locations too obscure? What are successful recycling operations and why are they successful? What is the largest scale successful recycling campaign & how was the outcome measured? What are people's individual success stories -- what motivates a person to recycle & how did s/he go about it?

  1. People in communal living areas (like apartments, condos) appear to be inspired by others who recycle, especially if an easily accessible community recycling area is established.
  2. Recycling containers are typically unattractive. How can recycling containers be designed in a way that will encourage people to acquire the containers as permanent home fixtures and conversation pieces. Is there a way to make them customizable based on the user’s recycling needs? And the containers should also be recyclable. Samples of interesting design:
  3. How can recycling be made more exciting? Here is how some people are doing just that:

    Gameday Recycling Challenge “is a friendly competition for colleges and universities to promote waste reduction at their football games."
    Cities like NYC use gaming to encourage recycling amongst residents, businesses and young people:
  4. How can community recycling info be made more accessible? How does one know if his/her community has a recycling program? Where is the closest recycling center? What is recyclable? Etc.

    Take a look at how two, small communities in North Carolina have teamed together to recycle a landfill byproduct (methane gas) to further the environment, their communities & to startup new businesses:
  5. Is there a way to combine business recycling programs into a large scale joint program, instead of separate ventures?
  6. Is there a way to inspire youth through education/school? How can youth become more engaged in recycling?
  7. Check out how the Etsy community is designing recycling bins that appeal to any style & how they design from recycled content:

Research from social scientist BJ Fogg, PhD. Dr. Fogg is the Director of the Persuasive Tech Lab at Stanford University:

Sparring Mind: How to Build Good Habits (and Make Them Stick)
By Gregory Ciotti (and data from Stanford University’s Dr. Fogg)
Gameday Recyling Challenge:
NYC Waste Less:
FRG Waste Resources, Inc.
Design Buzz:
Eco Chic Design:
The (icons in infographic):
Doughnut by Alex Fuller, Newspaper by Adrian Escudero, School Bus by Alex Berkowitz, Paper Bag by Dorian Dawance, Shower by Ashley Fiveash, School by Saman Bemel-Benrud, Traffic by Laurent Canivet, Meeting by Lance Hancock, Worker by James Fenton, Food Card by Kelly Carnes, Pizza by Marcus Michaels, Football by Bram van Rijen, Algebra by Ilsur Aptukov, Pillow Fight by Luis Prado, Coffee by Jacob Halton, Note by Chok Hernandez, Sticky Note by Julieta Felix, Like by Marwa Boukarim, Sleep by Remy Medard, Sheep by Patrice Curci, Email by OCHA Visual Information Unit, 3d Model by Jose Sanmartin Gonzalez, Project by Jaap Knevel, Project by Arthur Schmitt, Magnifying Glass by Raul Serrano, Network by Mani Amini, Crown by Robert A. Di leso, Television by Andy Fuchs, Calendar by Gustavo Cordeiro

Evaluation results

33 evaluations so far

1. How well do you think this idea will create new habits for the people involved?

Really well. I can see it creating lasting behavioural changes - 84.4%

The idea is pretty good but I’m not sure it will make new habits - 15.6%

Not sure the idea would really help people establish long-lasting habits - 0%

2. Can the idea be scaled to work in different countries and with different people?

Yes – it’s clear how the idea could be adopted by people from far and wide - 84.4%

Seems like it could work but needs some fleshing out - 15.6%

I don’t think it could be easily used in different locations - 0%

3. Can the idea be used regardless of the local recycling schemes?

Yes – it doesn’t seem to rely on a particular collection scheme - 90.6%

Possibly – although it might work better under some schemes rather than others - 6.3%

I think it might only work under particular circumstances - 3.1%

4. How easy would it be to pilot a version of the idea to test it out?

Really easy – ways to test this idea further are already springing to mind - 78.8%

Piloting this idea would be possible but it could take a lot of time and resources - 21.2%

A pilot doesn’t seem easy at this point - 0%

5. Overall, how do you feel about this concept?

It rocked my world - 78.8%

I liked it but preferred others - 18.2%

It didn’t get me too excited - 3%

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Attachments (6)


Proposal pdf soft copy. V2 - added "Interviews & Alpha Testing" section. And fixed a few typos. (Save trees. Don't print.)


Information Architecture for Website & App versions (V1)


Prototype 1: Includes A) Habit questionnaire B) Recycling questionnaire C) How to Form a Recycling Habit in 5 Easy Steps handout


Prototype 1A: Habit questionnaire


Prototype 1B: Recycling questionnaire


Prototype 1C: How to Form A Recycling Habit in 5 Easy Steps handout


Join the conversation:

Photo of Leigh Cullen

A big & special thanks to everyone who supported this idea and who helped fuel the creative process with ideas and inspirations along the way! A big congrats to all winners! And, most importantly, hats off to everyone who enters ideas here on OpenIDEO. Such an inspiring community to be a part of & I look forward to partnering with you guys on all the fun challenges to come! Leigh

Photo of Bettina Fliegel

Amazing job Leigh!

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