“If we can make it here, we will make it anywhere”
– Our motto at the Sustainable Cup Challenge of the DO School (http://thedoschool.org/) in New York City. The city of brilliant opportunities, but also of around seven million disposable to-go-cups being thrown away EACH day and landing in landfills. We, 18 fellows from 16 countries ranging from Yemen to Brazil to Pakistan, were gathered by the DO School to find a solution for this problem. If this was not challenge enough, we only got ten weeks to come up and implement our solution!
Weeks of intense research about the city and its coffee culture created more and more coffee junkies amongst us. But after some time, we finally understood what was required to solve this problem: A system that was equally convenient to the disposable cup, but less harmful for the environment. In an effort to fulfil those requirements, we launched the GOOD TO GO campaign (http://www.goodtogocup.com/).
Heart of the project was Cupcycle (http://www.goodtogocup.com/cup-cycle/), a cup-sharing system that allows coffee drinkers to take reusable cups and drop them off at stations around the city. That way they do not have to carry them around the whole day and the cups get washed by the coffee shop. Above all, participation means getting a discount on each cup of coffee a customer orders in a reusable cup! To sum it up, we invented a bike-sharing like system, just for coffee cups. We piloted it for three days in one coffee shop, got great media attention (The Wallstreet Journal, CNBC News, etc.) and increased the user rate for reusable cups from an average of about 20 per day to more than 90 per day in only one week!
To celebrate our success we held an event on Earth Day where we portrayed our work and showed people how the disposed coffee cups actually could be upcycled into cool art pieces (http://www.goodtogocup.com/cup-canvas/).
We are all happy, that after having proven the concept, one of our fellows will take the project on and develop it further.
Besides working on a great project, we – changemakers from all over the world – had an amazing time getting inspired by each other and New York City.
The DO School regularly offers fellowships like this – and the best thing is: They support you for a whole year implementing your own venture back home! If you don’t want to wait for the next fellowship, check out their Massive Open Online Course about social entrepreneurship featuring great changemakers such as Muhammad Yunus: