GoCompost empowers community composting and fosters green habits with its app, website, and events.

Photo of Benjamin Li
2 8

Written by

Please confirm you meet the following criteria

  • We have submitted the supplemental form linked in the description above
  • We are aged between 14 - 20 as of February 11, 2021
  • We live in the United States or its territories (Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, and American Samoa)
  • We are not employed by, or directly related (parents or siblings) to a current General Motors (GM) or Ashoka employee
  • We have been working on this project for at least three months
  • We consent to Ashoka and/or GM featuring our work on their website, social media, and in other materials regarding this Challenge using the information in our application
  • We confirm we have the rights to use and share any content uploaded on this entry form

Website or social media url(s) (optional):


Date You Started Your Project


Project Stage: Select the description below that best applies to your approach.

  • Scaling (expanding impact to many new places or in many new ways)

1. The Problem: What problem are you helping to solve?

Landfills are overflowing with waste. Food waste is the No. 1 component in US landfills and generates methane, a potent greenhouse gas. Composting mitigates this problem and gives organic waste a new life. However, only 6% of food waste is composted. This is because many people lack knowledge or community support for sustainable choices, excuse their behavior due to inconvenience, or are unaware of the environmental impact of their daily actions.

2. Your Solution: How are you planning to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.

We aim to connect communities to increase composting participation with our website, community events, and a mobile app GoCompost. Our website provides detailed composting resources, inspiring composting stories, and information on our community events. These events encourage participation in green efforts by making composting and reducing waste fun and engaging. In addition, the GoCompost app encourages composting by providing community support and helping users build habits. With four main features, GoCompost app addresses many people’s barriers to composting, such as lack of awareness, knowledge, motivation, or support. The “Check” function helps users determine whether waste is compostable to avoid contamination. The “Map” function helps users locate compost collection centers. The “Impact” tab encourages users to log their activities, and provides detailed impact reports to show that user actions are making a difference. The “Community” feature connects people to collectively improve their composting knowledge and habits, with feed, events, posts, and feedback tabs for more specific views. GoCompost empowers users to overcome barriers and easily begin composting.

3. Please tell us how you are using science, technology, engineering or math to address your environmental challenge.

As people become more dependent on smartphones “on the go,” a mobile app allows users to conveniently integrate composting into their schedules. As a mobile app, GoCompost can reach many more users. Each feature of the app is the result of computer programming and modern smartphone and cloud technology. We thoroughly designed the UI to be user friendly and make composting resources and support easily accessible. We made the app using the React Native framework, allowing us to easily expand the app to different types of devices. We also programmed technological features, such as the ability to log in through Google. This, along with Google’s Cloud Firestore database service, allows users to keep and view their own composting progress for further motivation. The use of the Firestore database enables us to easily expand the features displaying composting centers and community events to many different communities, allowing us to reach more users and encourage them to compost. In addition, our app and website would facilitate community discussion about ideas and science behind composting. Also, our categorization of compostables has been reviewed with county experts to ensure accuracy.

4. Personal Journey: What’s the story behind why you decided to start this project?

When first learning about composting, we felt like we had been missing out. Over half of our garbage’s content was food waste. It seemed counterintuitive for it to go to the landfill when it could be composted. This past summer, we reached out to county waste management for community service opportunities, and were surprised that composting is a high priority, yet lacks public attention. This made us think why people don’t compost (lack of knowledge, motivation, or support), inspiring us to promote composting so everyone could take part in its benefits. We realized to facilitate participation, a simple, friendly tool would help make composting more accessible, inclusive, and easy for everyone. We enjoy coding, so we were motivated to make a mobile app, along with a website and community events. Although we had never made an app, we took the challenge and collaborated to create GoCompost.

5. Video (Keep it simple, your phone on selfie-mode is great): Please upload a 1-minute video to YouTube that answers the following “I am stepping up to be a Changemaker because...”

6. Please highlight the key activities you have carried out to bring your project to life.

After reaching out to local government to learn about the key community issue of food waste, we researched the impacts of climate change and the significance of composting. Next, we began developing GoCompost. As our app took shape, we promoted it on the internet and continued contacting local government and nonprofit organizations to pursue collaboration. In addition, we planned community engagement events. We have released the app on the Google Play Store, with a kick-off event on our website.

7. The X Factor: What is different about your project compared to other programs or solutions already out there?

While other solutions focus on gardening or localized event-based approaches, GoCompost enables wide-reaching and instant engagement through smartphone technology, wherever and whenever. In addition, people usually compost at school or work, but our app and community events engage people in green habits while many people stay at home in the pandemic. Furthermore, with its motivational impact log, informative “Map” and “Check” tabs, and engaging community section, our app creates an all-in-one, accessible, and intuitive platform for everyone. This enables users to be change makers themselves.

8. Impact: In the last three months, please detail the impact your project has made.

We have released the GoCompost app on the Google Play Store and received very positive feedback from test users, including county waste management officials, that our app is interesting and practical to use. One crucial suggestion was about the need for an iOS version of the app. Currently, we are working on releasing it on the Apple App Store and anticipate rapid user growth once it is ready. In the meantime, we are launching a community composting campaign on our website with the release of our app, and the accompanying kick-off event is providing compost bins to 100 community members. We are also holding two challenges to encourage people to give back to the planet, both by composting and reducing waste, and share their positive experience with the community. We have reached out to nonprofit organizations and schools to hold educational events, and promote our message and app.

9. What’s Next: What are your ideas for taking your project to the next level?

As our project continues to progress, we will continue enhancing our app, promoting it through social media, our website, collaboration with our county and local organizations, composting drives, and reaching out to more people to expand our user base. Further enhancements to our app could include community groups, AI image recognition, other categories like recycling, even more educational resources, and expanding the reach of our app to encourage more people in different areas to compost. This leads to our future outreach, which would involve holding community sustainability events and challenges, collaborating with nonprofit organizations, and spreading our cause to other counties.

10. Please share how you have influenced other young people to get involved in your project and/or care about environmental sustainability.

We’re reaching out to nonprofit organizations, which many young people are involved in, to collaboratively promote composting. Multiple young people have shared composting stories on our app’s community page. Our proposal to hold programs on composting and environmental science has been enthusiastically received by local youth programs that are keen to get their students connected to this subject through our virtual seminars. We estimate holding three sessions in the next three months.

11. How would you partner with other changemakers to make a difference?

We have reached out to nonprofit organizations to partner up in encouraging composting. We will also seek collaboration with STEM-related or environment-related student clubs and other youth-led organizations, as we hope to get student leaders and more young people interested in our idea, so that our collective efforts can amplify our positive effects on the environment. Additionally, our app and website could be used to promote various green community events hosted by different organizations.

12. How would you engage others who have never heard about your project to get their buy-in?

By promoting our message with our app and the internet, we have the potential to reach many people to make a change. We could get people involved through social media, community events, collaborating with organizations to promote green efforts, and inviting people to share positive stories. This would help people understand the impact of their daily actions, and how easy it is to begin composting. GoCompost is free, intuitive, and accessible with immediate visualization of users’ impact.

14. Which of the following types of expertise would be most useful for you? You’ll be able to select only one option.

  • Marketing Strategy

Are you employed, or directly related (grand-parents, parents, sibling) to a GM or Ashoka employee?

  • No

How did you hear about this challenge?

  • Recommended by others

Referral: If you discovered the Challenge thanks to an organization or person other than Ashoka or General Motors, who was it?

We found out about this challenge from a friend.

Evaluation results

11 evaluations so far

1. Overall evaluation

Yes, absolutely! - 90.9%

Probably - 9.1%

Maybe - 0%

Probably not - 0%

No - 0%

2. CONNECTION to Environmental Sustainability

5 - Absolutely! It is totally clear that the solution is contributing directly to environmental sustainability and/or addressing climate change - 100%

4 — Yes, it establishes a connection to environment/ climate change but could be stronger - 0%

3 — Somewhat, the entry speaks to this environmental sustainability, but the direct impact is not well established - 0%

2 — Not really, the connection to environment/ climate is very weak - 0%

1 — No. The entry does not have a reference the solution’s impact on environment and/or climate change - 0%

No Answer or No Connection - 0%

3. Is this entry CREATIVE?

5 - Yes, absolutely! - 81.8%

4 - Yes, I think so - 9.1%

3 - Maybe - 0%

2 - Probably not. - 9.1%

1 - No - 0%

No Answer - 0%

4. Does this entry demonstrate a COMMITMENT to changemaking?

5 - Yes, absolutely! - 100%

4 - Yes, I think so - 10%

3 - Maybe - 0%

2 - Probably not - 0%

1 - No - 0%

No Answer - 0%

5. Does this entry value CHANGEMAKING through collaboration with other stakeholders in its approach?

5 - Yes, absolutely! - 90.9%

4 - Yes, I think so - 9.1%

3 - Maybe - 0%

2 - Probably not - 0%

1 - No - 0%

No Answer - 0%

6. Is this entry VIABLE financially and operationally?

5 -Yes, absolutely! - 81.8%

4- Yes, I think so - 9.1%

3- Maybe - 9.1%

2- Probably not - 0%

1- No - 0%

No Answer - 0%

7. FEEDBACK: What are the strengths of this project?

CONNECTION: You have a great understanding and personal connection to the problem - 90.9%

CREATIVITY: You have researched existing solutions, and have developed unique, thoughtful new solutions to aid environmental sustainability/combat climate change - 81.8%

COMMITMENT: You have a thoughtful plan for growing your business, and your founding team has a strong combination of leadership and knowledge-based skills - 100%

CHANGEMAKER QUALITY: You value thinking around how to activate other changemakers and empower them to care about your cause. You also have a clearly defined plan on how to collaborate across multiple stakeholders - 90.9%

IMPACT MEASUREMENT: You use specific numbers and evidence to describe what your project has achieved so far (or plan to achieve in the future) and you have a plan for measuring impact - 72.7%

VIABLITY: You have given a great deal of thought to not just the idea itself but how to make it work from a financial perspective in the present and future - 72.7%

Other option - 9.1%

8. FEEDBACK: What are some areas for improvement for this project?

CONNECTION: Why you care about the environment/ climate was unclear – It would be great to elaborate on what this solution means to you, personally and how it affects you and/or your community. - 0%

CREATIVITY: Be more specific in your description of the research you have done into the past solutions to this problem and focus on how your solution is unique and innovative - 40%

COMMITMENT: Your plan for growing the organization can benefit from more specifics. How can you round out the various skills of your current leadership team to make the project a long-term success? - 0%

CHANGEMAKER QUALITY: Try to provide more insights into how you are activating changemakers and empowering them to innovate through your product or programming. How will they care about environment/climate if they currently do not? Think about how to create value for all stakeholders, not just immediate beneficiaries - 0%

IMPACT MEASUREMENT: Provide specific instances of your social impact and how you plan to measure impact – it may be helpful to describe the beneficiaries, products and programming, and provide evidence of (or plan for) how to measure impact - 40%

VIABILITY: Make sure you have provided descriptive information about your financial sustainability plan. Where do the funds come from now and do you have a concrete plan for future sustainability? - 40%

Nothing – I thought everything was great! - 100%

Other option - 0%


Join the conversation:

Photo of Sheridan

It seems you have filled a niche in your community, which is great! I would encourage you to really sit down and think abour your target audience more and how you will expand your reach to everyone you want to target.

Photo of Benjamin Li

Sheridan Thank you for your great feedback! We are taking this into careful consideration as we update our contribution.