Project Disposable Cup – Reimagining the disposable Cup

You buy a cup of Chai,

You have two options.

Plastic, seen as the devil,

and paper, seen as the angel,

but really, there isn’t a greater or lesser between the two.

What can be done?

We took a course in human centered design offered by Novo ed and IDEO.org  about four months ago, and that’s where it all began.  The disposable cup, as I see it,  is almost like the smallest unit of the whole big bad, food packaging industry and we decided to see if the course in human centered design would help us understand what can change in terms of products and systems, and how.

We spoke to chai wallas, rag pickers and customers to come up with a few new prototypes,  but seemed to hit a road block everywhere. It seemed hopelessly daunting, how inexpensive a paper or plastic cup is, how easy it is to not carry your own cup everywhere, and how even the most intelligent educated young man may believe with all his heart that the paper cup is a good thing.

I gave up.

Recently, I found another girl attempting to do exactly what I did, except hat her attempt was confined to her university campus, while mine had been out there, in the real world.  In that little world, filled with young people with fresh minds who were willing to try new things, it seemed like she had far better chances of success than I ever did.

And project disposable cup got the kick it needed to resume, the difference this time being to tack the problem from the other end- the customer, instead of the seller.

More in the next post.

PS : Here’s a worksheet I dug out from the novo ed website that was homework from months ago.

novoed1 novoed2

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