why waste?

What perspectives and beliefs enable wasteful drinking water consumption in New York City? 


Ethnographic research
Design synthesis
Immersive storytelling


SVA Design for Social Innovation


Yena Lukac
David Rojas
Nelson Tseng

Abba Babba

Ethnographic Research & Design Synthesis

Our team developed a mixed-methods research plan to understand how perceptions of drinking water in New York City influence resident behaviors. We observed water consumption in public spaces, interviewed 11 residents at their homes and workplaces, and had same residents self-report their drinking water behaviors over several weeks. From this research, we drew out four main insights related to the perceptions, treatment, consumption, and environment of drinking water.

Immersive Storytelling

To present our insights and the stories behind them, we designed an immersive workshop for our classmates and research professionals. At the workshop, audience members were first asked to pick a participant box—each representing one of our research subjects—and get to know their story by reading their quotes and bios on the box. They then listened to a series of curated audio clips from our qualitative interviews which spoke to each insight. Audience members used these stories and their subject's perspective to unpack the findings further in a facilitated discussion.