Starting something completely new means you sometimes end up in totally unexpected places. I never dreamt two years ago that Hubbub would be employing a team of three social designers or would be creating bins and street installations. How did we get here?

At our heart Hubbub is about behaviour change. The question we continually ask is how can we get people to question and change everyday habits. Answering this involves capturing attention at a time when people are physically doing the thing you want to change. Our litter campaigns are a great example of how we make this happen.

This month we launched For Fish's Sake in London. The campaign highlights that carelessly dropped litter can end up in the River Thames. We know that the river is an iconic symbol for London and not something that people intentionally spoil. Our research discovered that few people make the connection between the litter they drop and the impact this has on the river.

Grate art is one of the ways that we are helping people to make the connection between everyday habits and the river. At strategic points along the river we are creating highly visual vinyls of a fish mouth placed over grates. The installation urges people to think about what they are throwing down the drains and the impact that it has on fish in the river. We will be measuring the effect of this approach on littering which judging by the response they have received on social media seem likely to cause a real stir.

Another recent campaign has sought to reduce littering at 16 large-scale community football events run for children across the country sponsored by McDonald’s. The ‘Love Where you Play’ campaign (#betterplay) uses the football theme to nudge children to use the bins rather than litter.

The most visual element of the campaign has been the football goal bins. The messaging has been reinforced by referees handing out red cards with the message ‘Give litter the red card’. The campaign aims to gently nudge children to change their behaviour using the football connection to make it relevant and interesting.

A slightly different approach was taken with our Communitrees campaign. Academic research indicated that if people feel they are being watched their behaviour changes for the better. We placed faces designed by local school children from recycled materials on trees near litter hotspots throughout the Forest of Dean. A walking map was created linking all the faces and distributed by the Forestry Commission. Initial indications are that littering dropped by 30%. The experiment will be repeated this year with a more robust measurement process.

The strongest indication we have that good design can drive positive change behaviour is the Ballot Bin which has cut cigarette littering across the world. We have discovered that asking people to vote with their cigarette butts on ever-changing topical questions in a well-designed colourful bin shifts behaviour. These outdoor ashtray bins are now being used all over the world. We have created a social enterprise owned by the charity to market them and the revenue generated will be used to continue to explore how design can be used to change behaviour.