ReMake Bloomington with Radical, Local Change

How we leveraged waste management to facilitate creation of an open design community

Team & Duration

Philip Begel, Patrick Hermiller, Szu-Yu (Cyn) Liu, Ashley Smith

Spring 2017; 4 weeks



Scenarios; Documentation; Presentation Content


Deliverables & Methods

Deliverables: Service Blueprint, Stakeholder Map, Customer Journey Map, concept mockups

Methods: Walking probes, toolkits, interviews, scenarios 


Problem Space

  • Our focus for this project was to dream and design how a smart and connected community would look like in Bloomington, Indiana.
  • According to the Danish Smart City report in 2015: A smart and connected community has, at its core, access to data and intelligent tools to connect knowledge and people to drive change. Think of a smart city like a brain; the more neurons that are connected inside the brain, the more beautiful, creative and intelligent thoughts this brain will generate. 


  • Our team used waste management as a constrained design space via an in-class activity. We conducted ethnographic observations as well as interviews utilizing toolkits and walking probes as ways to understand waste in everyday life in Bloomington. We created several toolkits to envision alternative waste management solutions with selected stakeholders (3 local residents from apartment buildings in Bloomington and an apartment leasing office)


  • Building on this conducted research we proposed a new collaborative service design solution for waste management in the smart and connected communities design space. The final service design communicates and contextualizes what we have learned ethnographically and concretely reflects the co-design sessions.


Sustainable Residential Living
Service Design: ReMAKE






ReMAKE Bloomington is a service based makerspace utilizing technology such as the Precious Plastic’s DIY recycling machine.

Precious plastic DIY recycling machine [24]

  • At the core of the service, residents are able to drop off their recycling at their apartment complex’s regular disposal area and also at a recycling center turned community makerspace. Residents can learn how to make everyday items (cups, plates, forks, chairs, lamps, etc.) or art out of their recyclable materials.
  • The goal with ReMAKE is to change the way we think of waste management. Instead of throwing everything away residents can make items for themselves, the community, or people in need.

After evaluating with our stakeholders, we refined our service design proposal by incorporating their aspirations and suggestions. The following documents provide details of the service: a service blueprint, a stakeholder map, a customer journey map, and physical evidence visualizations

Service Blueprint

A “living” document to specify and detail each individual aspect of the service that all parties involved have a say in.

Stakeholder Map

We try to incorporate and empower stakeholders at different levels to come together for the betterment of the community. This sustainable waste management eco-system is constructed with the apartment residents at the center of service. The bottom-up innovation practice is enabled by the top-down strategies and regulations.

Customer Journey Map

An immersive user-focused experience.

Branding ReMAKE

Co-branding with Maker Faire, we are enabling a creative community through utilizing modern technologies and linking this creative practice with a pre-industrial culture: the sharing and reuse of waste. We use vivid colors to highlight the power of innovation and to make our branding highly visible.

Social Media:
Raising awareness through social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram.

Maker Space:
The recycling center is transformed into a makerspace where everyone can come and create objects with collected recyclables.

Image adapted from Office Space in Hong Kong

Recycling Bins:
ReMAKE labeled recycling bins collect recyclables for reuse and maker purposes.

Image adapted from Method Recycling Bins

We invite talented makers & artists to hold workshops and teach residents how-to skills.

Image adapted from Maker Faire Detroit

Posters & Ads:
Co-branding with Maker Faire, the ReMAKE Faire aims to show the community pride for sustainable and creative endeavors.

Photo by Cyn Liu

This service reorganizes existing elements into a new, meaningful combination to allow this creative community to make, and for these people to cooperatively invent, enhance, and manage innovative solutions for new ways of waste management and living in Bloomington.

Radical, Local Change

  • This creative community would be the start of an expression of radical changes in waste management practices on a local scale. 
  • Local collaboration, mutual assistance, and spaces & services that are shared at our makerspace will educate and significantly reduce each individual's needs through utilizing local capabilities and resources such as equipment, technology, and experts in terms of the resulting creations made.
  • Ultimately, this will lessen the impact of our daily waste practices on the environment.

Bottom-Up Innovation 

  • Though technology will be available to makers such as the plastic recycling machine or 3D printers and other craft equipment, the innovations that this makerspace will produce are driven more by the resulting changes in behavior than by the technology. This is a true bottom-up rather than top-down process being built with this creative community.

Community Well-Being

  • The well-being of the community and environmental sustainability will be positively correlated through the community’s positive attitudes towards sharing spaces and goods, and the regeneration of local networks.

Alternate Choice

  • This alternative to the standard waste management practices that we all experience daily is being challenged through this sharing, exchange, and participation on a community scale.

Social Fabric

  • The result will be a regeneration of the social fabric by restoring relations through proximity of making together and forming meaningful bonds between individuals.

What I Learned

  • Creating a toolkit is more than grabbing supplies that may work; it is more about designing an experience that will allow participants to think through their decisions and reflect on their habits.
  • Challenges in the development of all our toolkits: It was difficult deciding on an activity that was not strenuous for the participant, but was still effective. It was important for the task at hand to be simple enough so that the participant can focus on how they felt and their emotions rather than stressing about the list of tasks they have ahead of them. 
  • The toolkits provide a great, natural way to prompt the participant about why they wrote what they did or used the toolkit the way they did.
  • We must not forget though that tools are just tools. We must learn to be human with each other. It’s important to learn how to use these tools to facilitate research, but it is equally essential to learn how not to be trapped by those tools. We need to be flexible with the objects-at-hand and use them as vehicles to find insights, not as the focal point of conversation. Be human and stay sensitive to the conversations.
  • Suggestions for improving the toolkits: The toolkits are more useful for reflection of habits, but not very useful in the generation of ideas for the future. Some sort of cumulative toolkit at the end or a feature of each toolkit that could be interwoven to create a final presentation of their behavior towards waste management would be interesting. It could be useful in them seeing it all laid out and then having the opportunity to become designers and come up with something crazy or useful for themselves.


Research: Walking Probe & Toolkits > Insights > Scenarios  > Our Service Design: ReMAKE

Our process over the course of this project allowed us to:

  • explore, expand, contract, and redefine design problem spaces by generating, proposing, and defending design concepts through our stakeholder's insights
  • analyze design and use cases, exemplars, and empirical user research data to understand design needs 
  • communicate design proposals, prototyping results, and user research practices to stakeholders in a professional manner


Our selected stakeholders were 3 local residents from apartment buildings in Bloomington, Indiana and an apartment leasing office. With them we explored waste generation at these apartment complexes and what sustainable residential living in smart cities might look like. 

Rethinking Recycling 

Target Group
Residents of apartment complex's in Bloomington, IN
Apartment residents need to have access to recycling in order to make Bloomington sustainable for the future.

Plastic bottles turned into lamps [32]

Research: Walking Probe


We walked around different areas in Bloomington such as the Indiana University campus, rental apartments, commercial areas,

and hotel alleys to understand current waste management practices and explore new sustainable solutions to handle waste and recyclable disposal.

Research: Toolkit Deployment

Participants: Two local residents

Method: We used our toolkits to understand insights about people’s behavior in recycling and then generated scenarios for future sustainable living in Bloomington.

Toolkits Goal

  • The overall goal with our toolkits is to understand the role recycling and eco-friendly behavior plays in our participant’s lives, if any.
  • We set out to understand the level of awareness and education our participants have with sustainability in their apartments and where there are opportunities for potential design interventions within the smart city of the future.


Toolkit Design

  • With this goal in mind we wanted each of our toolkits to elicit a deeper conversation and learning from our participants about the role of waste in their homes, specifically living in apartments.
  • We researched potential activities from design agencies and used the Sanders [2] reading as a guide for gaining insights into how our toolkits might work, which we presented to our participant in her home. 

Interview: A post-interview was conducted by the end of the toolkit activity. Questions for the semi-structure interview included: 

  1. What are the objects you threw away that can’t be recycled?
  2. What do you do with the objects that are recyclable?
  3. Does this activity make you rethink your recycling habit? Will you make any changes after this activity? 

Interview: We used one of the photos sent to us for the sensitizing toolkit, a sweet tea bottle, to prompt her to recall the entire process from purchasing the tea to discarding/recycling it. 

Full experience mapping toolkit

The objective of this toolkit is to focus on their point-of-view to see their individual story throughout the experience of throwing away their trash and gain an understanding of what their experience is like. We can identify segments of their experience, such as negative ones, that would benefit from new products or services and reveal design opportunities.


From these interviews that utilized the 5 toolkits we discussed the most significant insights that they revealed.

Residents need more access to recycling

  • Recycling is a burden to recycle with their current level of access
  • Feeling of pride when able to act in a sustainable way

The need to raise waste management awareness

  • Awareness and habit change could make a big difference.

Hacking wastes; from trash to art

  • From the walking probe, we noticed that Bloomington is a city of art and creativity. Graffiti and crafts can be found all around the community. 
  • How can we utilize the creative power of city residents to construct the Bloomington identity collaboratively?


Using the toolkits we created, and in combination with ethnographic observations and insights made, we generated a total of 3 different scenarios for future waste management in Bloomington with our stakeholders. We took these scenarios back to them to inform our final service design concept. 


From insights...

  • Need better, easier access to recycling so as to not feel like a burden
  • Change behavior towards waste management through awareness



To scenarios...

  • Scenario #1: Autonomous Recycler
  • Scenario #2: Recycling Whirlwind
  • Scenario #3: RecyclingGo!

Mrs. Henderson decides it’s time to take her trash out. She supports sustainable habits in her household, but it’s hard without easy access to her local recycling bin. She has to walk may blocks to recycle while her trash bin is just outside.

On-demand recycling bin at the touch of a button. 

The mobile recycling bin rolls through neighborhoods with low or not so easy access to a recycling bin by utilizing autonomous vehicle technology.

Students around the Informatics building hear of a new community recycling center right outside! They walk on by and see the creation.This artistic display takes the idea of a trash bin and flips its insides out to the public. The community can see how much they are recycling by the volume. It provides a motivating display to the community through the large and accessible area making recycling fun.

  • A new game sweeping the nation called RecyclingGo! 
  • An augmented reality game with recycling as its message. 
  • The game allows for learning of sustainable waste management for young people. 
  • Chad walks around and has his first encounter with a wild coke can!
  • He can either trash it, recycle it, or reuse it. Each option on different encounters will have different effects based on the encounter.


  • Choosing to Reuse it will change the coke can into a collectible item for Chad within the game. Nice! 
  • Choosing to Trash it will show Chad the results of his actions. The graveyard of all things. 
  • Choosing to Recycle it revitalizes the coke can showing Chad how it can become a new coke can! 
  • Chad learns what can be recycled, what should be thrown away or chooses to reuse things and sees what happens! All based on modern sustainable practices.




  • Chad also notices that the game has “Recycling Stops” where it makes him aware of where all the places are that have public recycling. 

Our stakeholders entertained the proposed scenarios and took well to the ideas being conceptualized of promoting: accessibility, a community-focused approach, and teaching re-use instead of waste.

This led to formation of our service design concept: ReMAKE.

Co-Desiging the Recycling Service

  • We are taking advantage of opportunities arising from combining the existence of traditions, using an existing set of products, services, & infrastructure, and also the existence of social conditions in Bloomington favorable, and accepting, of the development of this creative community. 
  • We shared and refined our service design idea with our stakeholders: local residents, an apartment leasing office, and a co-op for the Bloomington Sustainable Living Association.
  • Involve the community in the service such as using an already established resource such as the Farmer's Market to allow people to sell or barter using items made in the makerspace and recirculate them throughout the community.
  • Promote sustainability from an accessible location by focusing on their local vicinity. This would allow sustainability to be visible to them where they call home.
  • We can combine apartment services with our proposed design



We would like to thank Wan-Ting, Yin-Chang, Michelle, LP, Kyle, and all the mentors who helped us with this project!

* All graphics and illustrations created by Cyn Liu and Ashely Smith. Scenario illustrations by Philip Begel



  1. Sanders, E.B.-N. and Stappers, P.J. (2014) Probes, Toolkits and Prototypes: Three Approaches to Making in Co-designing. In CoDesign: International Journal of CoCreation in Design and the Arts. Special Issue on Making. Vol. 10, Issue 1.
  2. Danish Smart City Report:
  3. Image of clothes -
  4. Pumping Gas -
  5. Bike -
  6. Light bulb -
  7. Electric Car -
  8. Trash pile -
  9. Sustainability symbols -
  10. Pumpkin and Cans - Bloomington recycling 
  11. Recycled bottles -
  12. Recycling bin (emotional toolkit) -
  13. Bottle art -
  14. IU student recycling -
  15. Fix Flint Now -
  16. Man with water cases -
  17. Public recycling parcel -
  18. Plastic bottle process -
  19. Wasted food -
  20. 3 bins -
  21. Plastic bottle recycling -
  22. Plastic -
  23. Family recycling:
  24. Precious Plastic DIY Machine:
  25. Craft room:
  26. Craft room 2:
  27. Craft art:
  28. Recycling community:
  29. Recycling shop:,0.65248226950354615&mode=crop&width=480&height=365&rnd=131291535260000000
  30. Recycling community 2:
  31. Maker community:
  32. Craft lights:
  33. IU Surplus store:
  34. Re-use Made Chairs
  35. SoIC Luddy Hall:

Precious Plastic DIY Home Recycling used as inspiration for service.

All images by authors unless otherwise noted.