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Carbon Collector

Green Internet Governance

Carbon Collector is an application that acts as an extension on your browser that tracks a consumer's digital carbon footprint, minimizing this footprint can access financial incentives such as discounts and rewards on digital products and services.
My Role
Service Designer, Product Designer
My Team
Chaebin Park — Service Designer, Product Designer
Natalie Huertas — Service Designer
Project Duration
3 months
During my first year of grad school, I took a service design class where we spent a semester building out a service to encourage greener habits. Each team was assigned a space within the larger "green energy" arena. For my team, we were given the focus of environmental policy. Starting here, we came to be interested in finding ways to decrease people's digital carbon footprint.
An Introduction to Carbon Collector

Carbon Collector is a browser extension that helps incentivize people to minimize their digital carbon footprint.

Understanding the Environmental Policy Players

When first looking into the broader area of "environmental policy". My team had a variety of questions regarding who was making decisions in the environmental policy space. As we conducted secondary research into the space, we constructed an ecosystem map that helped us understand how different stakeholders in environmental policy connected to each other.

Here we identified important tools used in environmental policy such as taxes, fines, permits, legislation, financial incentives and boycotts. We also identified important stakeholder groups here - information & awareness, communities, regulators and industry.

A Closer Look at the Ecosystem Map Stakeholders

Next, we looked at specific stakeholders that engage in things environmental policy related. Once we identified these stakeholders, we were able to go and do some secondary research on the internet in order to grab some quick information on each of these organizations (ie the EPA).

By mapping out our stakeholders, we were able to gain a good higher level understanding of the environmental policy space and use this as foundational knowledge going forward into our primary research.

Putting Together a Research Plan

Once we had a good understanding of our problem space, we wanted to do some primary research by talking to people. Before we could do this, we put together a research plan that outlined our:
1. Research schedule to make sure we were on track
2. Higher level research questions and goals (what were we trying to get out of this study?)
3. A moderator guide for when we talk to our participants and a write-up of our methodology (semistructured interviews).

Research Questions
1. What does environmental policy mean to people? How does it differ depending on the professional spaces that people take up?

2. How do people's personal belief systems influence their understanding of environmental policy?

3. How have people been engaging in environmental policy in both direct and indirect ways?

4. Where do people see the role of corporations and private industry in the environmental policy ecosystem?
Research Goals
1. Discover what environmental policy means to people.

2. Identify the ways and gaps in the way corporations have been engaging and propagating environmental policy.

3. Identify the ways and gaps in the way that individual people have been engaging and propagating environmental policy.

4. Identify how people's personal beliefs, opinions, and preferences affect their view on environmental policy in society.

We conducted semi-structured user interviews with 3-5 participants via Zoom.
If a participant could not attend a remote or in-person moderated interview, then we planned to them a curated list of our interview questions and have them type up responses to send back to us.
The Moderator Guide was utilized as a guideline not a template, we asked follow-up questions based on the participant's engagement.
Each interview was around 45 minutes to an hour.

Conducting User Interviews

After we had our research plan we conducted interviews with 3 participants which we sourced via our personal connections. Basically what we wanted to know was what these people were doing about the environment, and what they thought individuals, businesses, and the government should be doing about the environment.


From our user interviews, we developed 2 key personas.
Katy - the environmental activist
Brandon - the environmental agnostic

These personas represented 2 distinct types of people we needed to design for.
Katy, who is a passionate environmentalist - is willing to adopt newer sustainability technologies but needs them to be focused on sustainability. Brandon, who is an environmental agnostic - needs a low barrier way to becoming more environmentally friendly and some positive push to make lifestyle changes.

Journey Mapping

Based on our user interviews, we also pieced together the current journey for Katy and Brandon. For both we focused on their digital carbon footprint throughout the day - both from work and from leisure activities.

Three Key Initiatives

From our user interviews, we developed 3 key areas of the project that we wanted to focus on.

Address the gap between corporate environmental policy and individual action/lack of action
Address costly purchasing decisions by environmentally agnostic people.
Take advantage of environmental policy under American economic system, primarily driven by consumer, corporate incentives.
Pivotal Insight

Our real breakthrough moment came in the form of a realization during our user research analysis. Although we had identified areas of opportunity, we had no real way to apply it as sustainability looks very different depending on the industry you are addresssing. We went back and examined our user interviews and realized something interesting from what none of our participants talked about.

Secondary Research: Part Two

So once we came upon this realization, we did some secondary research on our digital carbon footprints. And we realized that there was a huge opportunity here.

Design Goal

Based on our new nugget of opportunity in the digital sustainability space as well as our pre-existing insights from our user research, we honed in on a design goal.

How Can We

INcentivize Both Consumers and Corporations to Decrease their digital footprint?

Digital Governance through Consumer Behavior → Company Behavior Shifts
Future State Journey

After we identified the opportunity in reducing people’s digital carbon footprints, we went back to Katy and Brandon’s journey and created a new future-state journey. Through this, we wanted to address the opportunity points we identified and see how we could help Katy and Brandon reduce their digital carbon footprint.


As a group, we conducted a group brainstorming session - and we kept track of our ideas on a Mural board. We began by throwing out ideas and eventually we started to combine or build off of ideas we thought were worth pursuing to refine them further. Upon converging on our final concept we realized our product would have to incorporate the collaborative efforts of  consumers, businesses, and government in order to achieve real effects.

We ultimately decided on a checks and balances system driven by financial incentives. Consumers would be able to track their own carbon footprint while businesses could offer incentives to consumers and at the same time be offered incentives by the government which could set its own carbon standards.

Value Proposal
Service Model

We began wireframing the consumer extension and platform, Carbon Collector on Figma. The most important part of the extension is the interface through which users are able to actively track their carbon footprint and access financial incentives to keep their carbon footprint consistently low.

Carbon Collector

Introducing the final Carbon Collector design.

Long-term Benefits