How one small change created a new habits, saves money and helps the environment.
The University of Winchester campus used to get through 190,000 cups disposable cups over a year. The cups are typically made from a mixture of paper and plastic and hardly ever get recycled.
In an effort to reduce costs, save students money and become more environmentally responsible, they introduced a 25p discount for those who bought a reusable cup. They offered the discount for a number of years but not that many people took it up so the Campus decided to make a one simple subtle change to its prices…
Instead of offering that 25p discount for bringing the reusable cup they instead cut the price of their hot drinks by 25p and introduced a penalty or surcharge of 25p if you needed a disposable cup. To help the scheme the campus also gave out free reusable cups to first year students.
So in reality, the prices hasn’t really changed but the new expectation, the new habit was that you would bring a reusable cup with you.
After interviewing the students one can see that the new habit was to automatically leave in the morning with their re-usable cup so that they don’t have to pay as much at the till.
In the first year of this new strategy the Campus saved 34000 cups and the scheme is growing in popularity overall. The campus haven’t lost any money, hot drink sales have not declined, but their costs have reduced, they have increased their sustainability, the students have a new sustainable, environmentally helpful and cost effective habit or behaviour.
“We have seen a significant change in behaviour, with the 25 pence surcharge on drinks prompting staff and students to buy drinks in a reusable cup and reject a disposable cup. Our recycling rate is now at 64 per cent, and we hope to continue to improve on this even more in the future.”
The University is one of the lowest carbon university campuses in the country. In the last ten years they have:
- reduced its emissions by over 45%.
- None of its waste goes to landfill
- any waste that is not recyclable is sent to an energy from waste facility,
- food waste is sent for anaerobic digestion
- waste cooking oil is turned into Bio-diesel
This change in habit has been so successful that the University scooped a Green Gown Award for the initiative and now the campaign has been shortlisted for campaign of the year and waste reduction initiative of the year in the public sector category of the MRW National Recycling Awards 2018.
This one simple change has had a significant cost saving impact to the organisation, it helps the environment, and it encourages individual habits to become the responsible norm.
How could this be applied in other organisations? How can we apply this change in habit ourselves? Imagine what a difference this small simple single change in habit would make on us and the world around us.