Jacquie Ottman's
Green Marketing Blog

2015: Fresh Ideas for Engaging Consumers in Preventing Waste

(Image: Shutterstock)

What does it take to inspire people to ‘reduce’ and ‘reuse’ in addition to recycle? The top posts submitted during 2014 submitted by members of our growing We Hate to Waste.com global community showcase a number of brand new ideas for preventing precious resources from dead-ending in a landfill.

With recycling and composting stalled at 34% across the U.S., and incinerators back atop the agendas of many U.S. cities, the timing couldn’t be better for taking a fresh look at alternatives to take-out packaging, which seems to be particularly irksome for environmentally conscious consumers.

  1) Selfies with Reusable Coffee Mugs Help College Students ‘Kill the Cup’

kill the cupDrew Beal’s “Kill The Cup” campaign inaugurated across ten college campuses this past fall represents one big idea with a low-cost execution for making it socially acceptable, if not downright cool for college kids to bring their own reusable coffee cup.

Leveraging the age-old concept of college rivalry, the students and campuses with the most selfies posted at  KilltheCup.com wins.  Campaigns for corporate offices and coffee shops are now in the works. The Goal: make a big dent in the 50 billion paper cups Americans throw away each year (cups and lids not included).


Q: How might your organization leverage the power of fun, social media and a competitive spirit to make your no-waste efforts cool?

  2) What Can We Do About Ocean Plastic Waste?

Ocean Plastic Waste

Empower consumers to do take on a contemporary issue of concern- and get rewarded with a brand image burnished with a ‘cool’ factor.  In this instance, Method cleaning products and Bureo skateboards each designed special versions of their products made from plastics collected from beaches.  With 6 times the amount of plastic than zooplankton in certain ocean gyres, plenty of opportunity exists to provide even more solutions.


Q: How might you embrace plastics waste and make it your own?

  3) The Tiffin Project: Reusable To-Go Containers

Tiffin Project

With NYC now among a long list of cities banning polystyrene foam take-out containers, the move is on to find an alternative. Chef Hunter Moyes of Vancouver has done just that by designing an entire system of reusable tiffins and cooperating restaurants that provide discounts to users.


Q: Just Salad sells reusable salad bowls and provides a discount to users,  while Starbucks attempts to achieve a 5% goal of filling customers’ personal coffee tumblers with a discount of their own.  How might you leverage growing sentiment against ‘to-go’ packaging and inspire employees, students and other stakeholders to bring their own?

  4) Mottainai: How the Japanese say ‘Waste Not, Want Not’


Sometimes the most inspiring solutions to how to prevent waste and save precious resources lie deep within other cultures. In this post, Japan-o-phile Mary Wallace, co-inventor of ‘People Towels,’ describes the Japanese principle of “Mottainai” that results in inculcating a 4 “R” - respect for natural resources at the earliest age.  Old kimonos are recycled into cloth sandals and other accessories. Innovating plumbing practices save water.


Q: How might your organization make it easy for young families to inculcate a mindset of waste prevention from the very start, when habits are formed?

  5) Pick up Litter, New York!

Pick Up Litter

Can people be nudged to take litter into their own hands? Just think how clean-and at so little cost-NYC would be, for instance, if everyone took it upon themselves to pick up just one piece of (‘clean’) litter per day.


Idea: Anyone who’s not so keen on the idea of picking up after others can try to reduce one of the key sources of litter, take-out packaging, by bringing their own.  A quick peek at a popular online marketplace suggests there’s no lack of well-designed reusable dinnerware and napkins now available.

  Other Popular Posts on WeHateToWaste.com in 2014

6) Food Shift: Food Recovery That Creates Good Green Jobs

7) Tom Szaky’s Terracycle Teams Up to Take Down Trash

8) Disposable vs. Cloth? Compostable Diapers are Now an Alternative

9) How to Fix ‘Sell-By’ Dates and Stop Food Waste

10) What’s in Your Purse? Fredrica’s Got 7 Reusables and a Good Reason to Carry Them

Jacquelyn Ottman is founder and principal of J. Ottman Consulting, Inc. NYC-based experts on green marketing and eco-innovation. She is the author of The New Rules of Green Marketing: Strategies, Tools, and Inspiration for Sustainable Branding (Berrett-Koehler 2011). In 2013, her firm launched WeHateToWaste.com, an online global community of consumers looking to prevent household waste, conserve natural resources and get the most from the products they buy.


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