Product Design students design littering interventions

Hubbub 2016
18th October 2016

Our second and final year Product Design students began their term with an exciting project to design an innovative intervention to prevent littering on Birmingham’s streets. 

Dr Becky Mallaband, a Product Design Lecturer at Aston, partnered with London-based behaviour change charity ‘Hubbub’ to set the challenge. Hubbub’s aim is to create fun and innovative campaigns to communicate environmental issues, focusing on people’s passions such as fashion, food, homes and neighbourhoods.  

The students were set a brief, and given one week to design the intervention. There were no restrictions as to what the solution could be – it could be an object, an app, or event, and could be installed anywhere along Broad/New Street in Birmingham’s city centre. 

The first task for the students was to conduct some research and understand what motivates people to litter. Students were encouraged to get out of the classroom to go and observe the littering problem in the city. A recent report estimates that £850 million of taxpayers’ money is spent fighting a losing battle against litter, with chewing gum and cigarettes being the most frequently littered. Working in teams, the students had to design a solution that has the potential to change behaviour. 

After one week, the teams pitched their ideas to Sarah Weigold, Designer, and Sarah Divall, Project Coordinator, at Hubbub. Ideas ranged from brightly coloured, seasonally shaped bins that would be placed in the city at key times of year such as Christmas and Easter, to large sticky markings on the floor which resembled chewing gum, and stated facts about the cost of chewing gum disposal. 

This project was a fantastic opportunity for our students to gain experience in high-pressure designing whilst working with a charity, under the leadership of industry professionals. The best ideas will potentially be put into production for implementation on Birmingham’s streets by Hubbub.