At Hubbub, we use design to nudge behaviour; if something looks appealing, or makes people’s lives easier, they are more likely to engage and take action. It is clear that creative and bold ideas are required to build a more just and sustainable future. This is understood by university students across the country. Thanks to support from CAF Venturesome, Hubbub has sought to unleash their desire to act by launching Design By Nature. It's an initiative that challenges students to find new ways to reduce the environmental impact of fast fashion, to cut water waste and to reduce air pollution. We are stunned by how innovative and unique the ideas that were entered are, three of which are featured below each responding to a different environmental issue. 

Sew Conscious 

The environmental and social impact of fast fashion is hitting the headlines, with revelations about working practices at factories supplying Boohoo. Globally, an estimated 92 million tonnes of textile waste is created each year, the equivalent to a rubbish truck of clothes being dumped every second.  One way to reduce waste and to save money is to mend, upcycle or personalise clothing, giving it a longer lease of life. 

The question Samantha Supan from Brunel University sought to answer was how can you persuade Gen Z to tackle the culture of fast fashion and get more value from their existing wardrobe? Her solution was Sew Conscious, a revolutionary brand seeking to change the way young consumers think about their clothes, and promote the message of repairing rather than replacing. 

Her research revealed that the sewing machine is fundamental part of the repair process, but they're seen as being aimed an older audience.  Her response was to create a beautifully designed sewing machine made from recycled plastic aimed specifically at Gen Z.   

The Sew Conscious machine folds for easy home storage and uses smart technology to create a simple and approachable sewing experience. The brand wants to inspire young consumers to bring new life to their clothes, question their shopping habits and help them feel empowered towards using their voice to speak out and tackle the big issues in the fashion industry.  

Mini Kitchen Aquarium 

Parts of England are at serious risk of water shortages by 2040.  Despite this warning, many people are unaware of the need to save water or indeed how much they regularly use.  The question Langyuan Ma from Loughborough University sought to answer was how can you encourage people to cut water consumption back to the recommended daily amount?  Her research revealed people need to be nudged to save water at times of use and that visualising the change they were making was highly motivational. 

The design solution was a digital kitchen aquarium to represent the recommended value of daily water consumption represented by an electronic screen. Simplified marine lives in the aquarium represented water usage. If the water consumption on the day exceeded the specified value, water is drawn from the aquarium causing marine organisms to lose their water resources and to slowly become extinct. But saving water makes the aquarium more and more prosperous. 


The health impacts of poor air quality are becoming ever more apparent and there is increasing evidence that it exacerbates the health risks of COVID-19.  Betsy Cousins from Loughborough University discovered that most air pollution is concentrated about 60cms above ground level and that construction workers are particularly at risk.  Her research found that existing products to protect outdoor workers are cumbersome, inconvenient, uncomfortable and limit communication.  She set out to find a better solution. 

Her OptiAir design contains sensors which detects the quality of air surrounding outdoor workers.  When harmful air quality levels are detected, the duel fans snap down to deliver clean air to the workers creating a clean air shield and protecting the outdoor worker from breathing in any harmful pollutants. The design is easy to use light and does not impact communication. 

What’s next for Design By Nature? 

Hubbub will now be working with some of the students to take their designs to the next stage, exploring the commercial viability and helping them understand how best to take ideas to market.  

We will be repeating the Design By Nature competition next year, and announcing a new partnership to help an organisation address a specific challenge they are facing. If your organisation would also like to present design challenges through the competition, please email [email protected] 

Hungry for more? 

Meet more of the student designers and their fabulous ideas here, or take a look back at:

5 times Hubbub turned heads and inspired action with design in our campaigns.