Our Prototyping Journey
How we are testing our data
Our idea will impact the residents who want quality food, farmers who want wholesome soil and other communities who want to duplicate this idea.Jeff Groser, Assistant Administrator
Princeton will test resident motivation to participate in a composting program. Using behavioral nudges, the city will assess how to encourage composting practices. By running Monte-Carlo analyses and location proximity tests, the city will assess its ability to manage the food conversion process.
"The team is also exploring why so much food is thrown out, and how people can learn to purchase food more selectively so less is wasted. 'It’s incredibly timely,' said Project Manager Matt Wasserman. 'You can’t open the Times or the Journal without seeing an article on food waste. I think this puts us on the forefront.'" Town Topics
What we're discovering through testing
The team began by doing a lot of tests around signage and communications with the public. The team has been challenging their assumptions around composting behaviors by placing compost bins at different community events and observing citizens’ behaviors around them. They then interviewed citizens to better understand the "why" behind their behaviors. One clear finding emerged - that once a behavior is learned and becomes automatic, it is very difficult to change.
From the last checkpoint with the advisors from @BloombergDotOrg a week ago. We helped mayor @lizlemp and her team synthesize ideas, findings & pivots and create workstreams to achieve our goal of making composting available city wide. #MayorsChallenge #PrincetonChampionCity4:38 PM - 17 Jul 2018 TeamSWIFT18
Through testing, the team has noticed how often Princeton residents talk about the feeling of guilt as part of the composting experience. People feel guilty that they’re not composting enough, guilty that they're not composting the right things, and even guilty that they could be producing more compost if they didn’t fill the bin all the way. Going forward, the team are looking to explore this aspect further, and the impact of guilt on resident behavior.
#FunFriday! We’re redesigning the compost bin today to address passerby contamination, pests, smell, liquids, consistency issues etc. Here are some quick & fun prototypes of our ideas! @lizlemp @BloombergDotOrg #MayorsChallenge What improvements do you want for your bin?2:37 PM - 20 Jul 2018 TeamSWIFT18
We learned it wasn’t as simple as putting up the right picture and people would get it.Matthew Wasserman, Project Manager
What we've learned
The team have discovered the potential of the ‘community’ to drive behavioral change. They are moving their focus from individual to collective behavior; in particular, how people are impacted by their perception of what their community is doing. When the city asked residents if they would like incentives to join the program, many said they see it as a community service, and that offering rewards would undermine the idea. The team are now conducting further tests around community.
How much food waste is in your trash? We conducted a trash audit to get a baseline and the amount came out to ~50%. How much will that change if those residents composted for a week? Find out next week! @lizlemp @BloombergDotOrg #MayorsChallenge #johnstreettest #princetoncomposts11:52 AM - 7 Aug 2018 TeamSWIFT18
We’ve heard a lot of positive feedback about the program; people like giving back, they like feeling part of a larger initiative and helping the city.Emma Thomas, Princeton University