Wondering what’s already worked? Here’s the science.

A cleanly-designed ceramic compost bin sitting on a kitchen counter
A cleanly-designed ceramic compost bin sitting on a kitchen counter
You may be more likely to keep a compost bin on the counter if it’s nice to look at. Photo from Adobe Stock.

I’ve been writing, speaking, and practicing Behavioral Design for over a decade, focusing on climate. Lately, as more and more people in tech and design are using their skills to help the environment, people want to know:

If you’re like me, and you came to the behavioral path through design and not through academia, you may not have easy access to scientific resources and studies. …


A behavioral designer’s guide

Drawings of lots of people shopping, with shopping cards and gift bags
Drawings of lots of people shopping, with shopping cards and gift bags
Adorable shopping images licensed from Adobe Stock

Lots Of People, not just niche hippie environmentalists, are starting to consider their environmental impact. And given the buying power that Lots Of People have, I have no doubt that at some point soon it will be much easier (or even the default) for us to make shopping decisions based on what’s best for the planet. Until that day comes, we consumers are stuck figuring it out on our own.


Quick and easy things you can do right now.

Protestor holding a homemade sign: “There are no jobs on a dead planet.”
Protestor holding a homemade sign: “There are no jobs on a dead planet.”
Photo by Markus Spiske via Pexels

As the former head of design at Opower, and someone who has made a career of designing for environmental behavior change, I often get requests from designers in tech who would like advice on how to help the planet. People want to know:

Switching jobs is one way, but not the only way. As a designer, there are steps you can take to minimize your impact on the planet. Here are 6 areas to focus on, with suggestions on how to get to started in only 60 minutes. ⏰

Step 1. Join climate design communities


Other cultures have different ways of dealing with death.

Do you have a will? If you don’t have children or health issues or a small fortune, chances are you probably don’t. You should fix this.

Western society is terrible at dealing with death. So when faced with a loved one’s death, especially a young person’s sudden death, it can be hard to make decisions and know what they would have wanted.

Questions you should have answers for:


You’ve never made a budget? No problem, you’re in good company.

Lately several friends have asked for my help making a budget. They are all incredibly smart, over-educated, high-achieving people, but they hate tasks like making budgets and haven’t ever made one before. No judgement. I’ve been making budgets for myself since college, and I find them kind of fun, but I am clearly a nerd and not the norm.

Why make a budget?

  • You can save more. Once you know how much you’re spending, you can figure out how much you can be saving. Then you can set up your savings account to…


The open road is yours

Part 3 in a series of posts about designing new life chapters

As I mentioned in the first post in this series, I am currently taking an exploratory year and, being a designer, I put a lot of thought into how to (lightly) structure my time. I am approaching the year as a design project, applying best practices from the design world to my personal life.

When thinking about exploring a new life chapter, how do you know what to explore?

For some people, choosing what to do with lots of free time is easy — they’ve always wanted to…


Evaluating yourself doesn’t need to be painful

Part 2 in a series of posts about designing new life chapters

As I mentioned in the first post in this series, I am currently taking an exploratory year and, being a designer, I put a lot of thought into how to (lightly) structure my time. I am approaching the year as a design project, applying best practices from the design world to my personal life.

Below are three design methods I find particularly helpful for personal growth. For each method, I include examples from designing my exploratory year. …


Aren’t we all just beautiful flowers, in the process of opening

Part 1 in a series of posts about designing new life chapters

Last December I left my job of almost seven years to take a year off. Inspired by Stefan Sagmeister and feeling an undeniable pull to take a break from Monday-Friday office life and corporate culture, I hoped to give myself the freedom and space to see what could come out of a year. I planned extensively for it — I gave my boss a year’s notice, put my finances in order, and told everyone I knew what I was doing it (to hold me accountable).

I now get…


(that has nothing to do with driving)

Hopefully we’ll have more luck than Jared did with self-driving cars. [HBO’s Silicon Valley image from TechHive.com]

Earlier this year I attended SXSW, where the number of talks about self-driving cars could have filled a whole other conference. I came away feeling optimistic about the potential of driverless cities and impressed by the collaborative thinking happening across industry and government. One of the panelists raised an interesting point: If we go from a model of moving through the world to being moved, we may become a more passive society.


Behavioral hacks to build better eating habits

Image credit: VentureBeat

By now we’re all aware of the looming health crisis brought on by easy access to unhealthy foods — and according to experts, the costs will be “astronomical.” While there’s no simple fix for problems of this scale, there’s one area that’s ripe for exploration: Using behavioral design to nudge people to eat better.

When I wrote about this a few years ago, the proliferation of food apps — Instacart, Blue Apron, Sprig, Caviar, Thistle, Lighter, Purple Carrot — hadn’t yet hit the market. Now these services are everywhere, and we are, for better or for worse, becoming more of…

Deena Rosen

Advisor, behavioral designer, and activist with a focus on climate and equity work. ex-Opower, d.school, Smart Design.

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