Ripple- App created at my first Hackathon.

Harpekhna Mahajan.
Jun 11 · 6 min read

Ripple: An app that not only rewards you for reducing your plastic usage, it encourages you to lead a plastic free life as well!


On March 4th-5th of 2019, I took part in Girls in Tech’s Hacking for Humanity Hackathon. ( The theme of the event was sustainability and climate change, where the team’s ideas had to be linked to the following:

How to use technology to:

  • Raise more mainstream awareness on climate change
  • Monetize sustainability
  • Incorporate climate change awareness in the gaming world
  • Educate about climate change (e.g. Forest Fires)
  • Through sustainability, become a core marketing component.

After extensive brainstorming and research on sustainability and the role technology has played in contributing to saving our planet, we came across many apps and platforms that focused on the importance of recycling, but not on reducing. This point lead us to creating Ripple.

Usually, when you opt out of using a plastic cup or a plastic bag, the price of that gets taken off of your total amount OR you get paid for recycling the plastic bottles you already used. However, this doesn’t stop you from using plastic because 1. The price of that extra bag or plastic cup doesn’t seem like much of a loss and 2. it incentivizes people to create more waste, because if you were getting paid to recycle your plastic, why wouldn’t you keep buying/using more plastic?

Ripple eliminates the middle man completely: plastic. By reducing instead of recycling, the consumption and use of plastic is eliminated, and by rewarding people for their reduction, it pushes them to lead a more sustainable life. In addition, the reason why reducing isn’t given as much emphasis as recycling is due to the lack of awareness of how one can incorporate it in their every day lives.

How does Ripple Work?

Ripple aims to educate people, both personal users and business owners on the importance and impact of reducing plastic, as well as rewarding them for cutting back on their plastic use. Users will be able to gain points in the places they opt out of using plastic in, and are then able to redeem these points in different places (where points are equivalent to products), or be able to donate the monetary value of these points to charities and organizations that promote sustainability. Similarly, vendors have a side to the app in which they are able to scan the user’s QR code in order to give them their points, and allow them to redeem the points at their business. This side of the app is customizable, in order to allow the business to set the rewards system and the products associated with them. Ripple is aimed to small businesses that cannot afford their own rewards system and who want to be more eco-friendly, and users who are looking to be more environmentally friendly, but aren’t aware of the small ways they can make that happen.

Prototype: Mobile Interface

Deliverables: 22 mobile layouts

Team Members: 4 (two Designers and two Software Developers)

Team Member Names: Felicia Chan, Rishab Manocha, Kheyali Mitra and Harpekhna Mahajan

Overall Tools: Sketch, InVision, Adobe Illustrator, Python, Java, Android-Studio, sqlalchemy

Role: UX/UI designer


Linda is a 24-year old woman who works a 9–5 job at an office 2 hours away from her house. Her daily routine consists of waking up extra early in order to stop by her local coffee shop before heading to work. Recently, her workload has been increasing, forcing her to stay at the office longer. Because of this she has increased her daily coffee dosage to 3–4 cups a day, turning her trashcan contents into numerous plastic cups a week.

Linda is also very aware of climate change and she is constantly looking for ways she can contribute to the planet, however, she is also aware that the monetary difference bringing a reusable cup will make is close to nothing, she doesn’t mind paying a couple of extra cents for a plastic cup.

She’s aware of the consequences when she comes across articles and related news. But more often than not, it’s not constantly in the back of her head.

She wishes that the consequences of not using reusable materials was greater.

Current Competitors:

When looking at other apps that have the same goals we do, we came across several with a main focus on recycling, not reducing.

One main example of this is

User Research:

Due to time constraints, our user research consisted of looking into competitor apps and noting features that work and do not work. This also consisted of us sharing our experiences with reducing and reaching out to online research on reducing, recycling and the problems with focusing on recycling.

We decided to focus our app on the education and marketing aspect of it. Our target audience was catered towards a younger audience (ages 20–30), who’s involvement in leading a sustainable life and contributing to the climate change problem is pivotal. Luckily, our team was composed of people who fit this demographic and we were able to draft out key features that would incite or motivate others to reduce as well.

With this in mind we included visuals to show the amount of impact that a person’s reducing is making. By visualizing and monetizing the impact (e.g. you have saved 3 plastic cups, therefore you are eligible for one free drink at Starbucks), the user is witnessing the impact of their actions in real life, pushing them to do more. This goes hand in hand with the reward system. Instead of saving a couple of cents by bringing a reusable cup or bag, these actions can be rewarded with points that add up to an overall reward, or an option to donate the money to a charity.

As another incentive for users to reduce and lead a more sustainable lifestyle, we included a gamification feature. In this, the user can compete with their friends and encourage them to lead a more sustainable life too. Weekly and monthly challenges can be set in which the winner can earn rewards that are redeemable at certain places as well.

Final Product:

User Sign in and Home page with QR code: including educational material and statistics on the user’s total reduction. Here users are able to get an insight of the educational material, keep track of their overall progress and find their personalized QR code that can be used at different businesses.

Redeem Rewards page: Users are able to see how many points they have accumulated and use it towards drinks/food at these specific businesses or monetize the points and donate to organizations and charities promoting a sustainable lifestyle

Educational/explore page: Users are able to access interactive videos and articles (quizzes, blog posts etc) to further awareness on the importance of reducing plastic.



Read more on what inspired us, the challenges we faced and everything we learned during the process!

Harpekhna Mahajan.

Written by

UX Designer | Digitalizing happiness |

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