At the University of Edinburgh, an estimated 1 million coffee cups are going to landfill every year: a rather staggering number. In our research, therefore, we were looking for a design to help reduce the amount of waste produced at university through disposable cups. To this end, we collected information around university through short (3-5 question) interviews and a focus group, to poll how people felt about the issue, and what they believed would be solutions that might have an impact. After some deliberation, we decided the most actionable course of action would be to try and improve the promotion for the University’s current Keepcup promotion — if one brings a University of Edinburgh-branded Keepcup to one of the University Cafés, they receive a 20p discount.
We found, however, that while students (who most likely form a majority share in customers at University Cafés), felt they would likely be very motivated to actually change their behavior (i.e. get a Keepcup) by the potential for financial gain – much more so than by playing into their environmental concerns. This is interesting, because we also found students generally were not actually aware of the discount given through the Keepcup promotion. Our conclusion, then, was that simply doing a better job of informing people of the discount would likely drive up use of Keepcups by a considerable margin, thus reducing cup waste.
To this end, we designed four preliminary posters, which were then further refined into a single, final design after a design critique session. The final poster focused on the financial gain people stand to gain from Keepcups, rather than promoting the environmental gains, and was well received by those we showed it to. We strongly believe that putting up this poster (or ones like it) in and around University Cafés would result in a significant reduction in cup waste at the University of Edinburgh.