Project Overview

San Francisco’s goal is to become a zero-waste city by the year 2025. As CCA is a non-profit educational institutional that encourages sustainable practices, we identified an opportunity to help promote this mission that very few individuals on campus seemed to be aware of. The Zero-Waste Roadmap is a collection of frameworks designed in partnership with David Meckel, to help CCA become a zero-waste campus.


My Role

I was responsible for the written content and compilation of the Zero Waste Roadmap, as well as for developing the Each One Teach Two, Zero Waste Starter Kit, Material Ordering and Paper Bin frameworks. I also contributed to the overall research, synthesis, ideation, prototyping and creative and systems thinking.


Secondary Research

We were inspired by the efforts of SF Environment and Recology to help individuals and business become more aware of the waste generated and the need to segregate it. We realized that many organizations such as Matter of Trust, and in schools including the UCs were implementing small systemic changes on campus to encourage mindful consumption of resources.

Our research was focused on answering:

  • What are other institutes doing?

  • What does behavior change entail?

  • Can the sustainable choice be the desirable and convenient one?


Recology Website


After watching a talk abut Crafting Your Narrative from the Regenerative Future Summit, we realized that climate change is more a social issue than an environmental one. We were still unclear about how we could intervene in such a complex inter-connected problem.

Crafting Your Narrative  at Regenerative Future Summit

Crafting Your Narrative at Regenerative Future Summit


Primary Research

This lead us to talk to experts on campus such as David Meckel, the Director of Research and Planning at CCA, and Cristalle Irons, the Operations Manager at CCA. We also visited Matter Of Trust and SF Environment to gain a deeper understanding of the system. We simultaneously conducted surveys with individuals on campus to discover their perspective of of what sustainability means to them.


Surveys to understand mindsets

Co-creating system maps with the Operations Manager


We wanted to test some of our hypotheses derived after this research. Cultural probes helped us experiment and test these hypotheses about student behaviors and mind-sets such as students in CCA are busy and unaware about segregating waste, or that individuals choose what is desirable, convenient and affordable over what is sustainable.


Challenging participants to use reusable cups instead of disposable ones for a week

Pinning up waste segregation posters above waste bins to observe changes in correct segregation

Setting up a studio cafe to promote a coffee culture around reusable cups

Requesting participants to document the material composition of their clothes for a week



Testing our hypotheses

  • Small “nudges” in an individual’s everyday routine makes them think twice about their choices

  • When an individual adopts a change in one environment, that behavior affects their mindset and continues into other environments

  • Individuals will adopt certain practices if they can see their peers practicing the same thing

  • Social/intrinsic incentive of maintaining a reputation can bring about behavior change

  • Individuals are busy, and prioritize convenience and cost over sustainability

Through this process, we defined the key area of focus with the following 'How Might We' statement.

How might we enable the CCA community to support individuals in adopting zero-waste practices on campus?

We took this opportunity to identify various leverage points in the CCA system to help with our ideation process.

  • Awareness and Education (Information Flows)

  • Student Initiative and Influence (Self Organization+Rules)

  • ZeroWaste 2020 (Goals)

  • Expected Behaviors and Norms (Paradigms)



We collaborated with our partner, David Meckel, to brainstorm ideas and synthesize them based on feasibility, impact, executability, and scalability. We mapped out our six main ideas of an average student’s journey with CCA, which was a useful for designing the roadmaps as well.

We identified an opportunity for CCA to educate the next generation of design leaders on best practices for Climate Action through small systemic changes.


Systemic interventions throughout a student’s journey at CCA


Each One Teach Two

The ‘Each 1 Teach 2’ initiative encourages students and staff to coach each other about best zero-waste practices. Through this program, individuals within the CCA community can empower themselves and others to advocate for zero-waste practices and lead with example.


Social Media Campaign

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California College of the Arts as a community, prides itself in having one of the most sustainable premises in San Francisco. This could be better represented on its digital platform. There is an opportunity to empower people within this community to adopt zero- waste practices by sharing the required knowledge and resources with them.


Waste Segregation Game

‘Sort it well’ is a game to be played by new CCA students at orientation and during college. The game is designed to teach students about different kinds of waste and how to segregate it. It also briefly focuses on why waste segregation is important in their own lives and at CCA.


Zero-Waste Group

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Read more about the Student Led Initiative here.



CCA generates 234 tonnes of landfill waste per year which is equivalent to 42 African Elephants by weight. CCA pays $70,000.00 to Recology to manage that waste. That is nearly equivalent to one student’s tuition for a year.

Once implemented, we envision the impact of these being:  increasing in awareness of zero-waste practices  developing empathy towards the ecology  shifting mental models  changing behavior

More specifically, we would encourage CCA to measure impact through the

  • Percentage of trash going to landfill per month, measured per year (Reduced to zero by 2020)

  • Percentage of individuals actively engaged in zero-waste conversation within the CCA community, per week, per month

  • Percentage of materials  being swapped for sustainable alternatives per CCA department, measured every semester

Through our experiments and our conversations, we were successful in influencing and inspiring those around us to be more mindful of their behavior - which we think is a small success as well!




We are working with CCA’s new Sustainability Initiative Group as well as David Meckel to support execution of some of these frameworks. CCA’s Marketing Team is also planning to use some of the content from this project to promote CCA’s sustainability values.



Building a movement to change behavior and inspire people is challenging. It is crucial to collaborate with the right people, those who are committed to the cause, and have the power to influence change. With something as complex as Climate Change, I needed to become more aware myself of what the best practices are on an individual level - adopting certain lifestyle choices made it easier for me to understand the challenges for someone who may not be aware or be as passionate about the issue. Talking about Climate Change isn’t enough, people need actionable choices, which can have immediate, tangible benefits on their personal lives.

In terms of this iterative project, having a customized set of objects specific to the context is much more relatable, powerful and has higher retention for participants.

  • The game prototype needed closing the loop wherein the students could revisit the content they had been introduced to and share their comments about the same. 

  • There is a need for explicit incentive in terms of invitation to participate in the game. This can be in the form of rewards and penalty.

  • It’s important to ground the big vision into our specific individual motivations so that there is much better reception.


About Team 20-95

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This project was a collaborative effort of three passionate Interaction Designers who were brought together by a common passion and appreciation of this planet’s ecology. Check out some of my colleagues’ work! -> Aastha Jain and Shreya Saraf