How to create change one behavior at a time.

How an App Gamified Plastic Bag Recycling

 Plastic bags suck.

They float onto your windshield when you’re driving 70 mph on the highway. There’s approximately a 99% chance that if you’re carrying something gross in them, the bag will have a hole. They clog up rivers. And they torment Liz Lemon.

So what to do? Some cities, starting with Washington, DC, charge shoppers extra for using plastic bags. Others, like Chicago, are banning them (not without some issues). But if you’re not an advocate or a mayor, is there anything you can do individually?

Turns out, there is.

The app MY ECO puts a couple of our 14 common behavioral determinants to work: rewards and efficacy.


There’s a trend in marketing towards gamification as people realize if you want to change someone’s behavior, it helps if you make it fun. Why does gamification work? The short take is that by making a game out of a behavior, you tap into a person’s desire to compete and can quickly reward the desired behavior.

Gamification is being used for other environmental causes. Nissan Leaf rewards drivers for eco-friendly driving habits. TerraCycle lets recyclers win products from partners and donate to charitable causes with their recycling efforts.

MY ECO gamifies the action of bringing reusable bags to the store by showing where you rank in bag-saving in your neighborhood, giving a user points for reporting shopping trips made with reusable bags and offering rewards that can be redeemed with points.


This one’s personal to me.

I’ve joined in on Lush’s #banthebead movement and have stopped buying exfoliating products that use plastic microbeads that end up in waterways.

I have early memories of having the weekly chore of dragging color-coded, sometimes sticky, bins to the curb in the morning and bringing them back to the garage after school and I’m still a stickler for recycling at home.

But, without fail, when I get to the grocery store or Target, my reusable bags are forgotten in the trunk of my car. They stay there empty and alone while I shop and grumble to myself before saying to the cashier that plastic’s “fine.”

I’m new to MY ECO, but after entering where and when I typically shop, I’m looking forward to the reminders from the app to grab my reusable bags before I head inside the store.

MY ECO is available for iPhones and Android devices. Need some reusable bags? You’re in luck. MY ECO sells two different sets.


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