In less than 6 months, what started as a flicker of an idea to tackle cigarette litter on one street in London, Villiers Street, went from a one-off prototype to a social media celebrity to a product ready for the mass market. Now anyone from around the world can order ‘a voting ashtray’ in efforts to keep their streets clean by nudging people to do the right thing with their cigarette waste. Ballot Bins are customisable by colour and question – allowing users to vote on topics that reflect their culture and interests. How did Hubbub make this happen and what are the wider lessons learnt?

1) Create spaces where innovative ideas can be developed and tested

The best ideas often come when spaces are created for people to come together, share ideas and think laterally around an issue. The voting ashtray was one such brainchild, created in collaboration with the design studio Common Works. It was Hubbub’s response to observational research and data collection that showed 72% of litter on Villiers Street was cigarette butts, and the main culprits were young males.

2) Tune into people’s passions to catalyse interest

The Ballot Bin prototype was installed on Villiers Street for 6 weeks, asking weekly questions on sporting matches and rivalries – playing off the interests of the target audience. The voting system allowed the user to choose one of two receptacles, creating public opinion polls. The question ‘Who is the best football player in the world, Ronaldo or Messi?’ hit a particular passion point. Beginning with a call from the Daily Mail sports desk the ashtray spread like wild fire on social media channels, as diverse as The LAD Bible to Design Week.

3) Be nimble footed, ready to respond to surges in interest

Following it’s online surge the Ballot Bin was soon on the international radar. It wasn’t long before people around the world were getting in touch wanting to replicate the idea or enquiring after buying their own bin. In order to harness momentum gained Hubbub quickly approached ‘Instrument’, a recommended industrial and engineering design studio, familiar with developing and producing innovative and elegant products for mass markets. They were able to re-design the prototype to make it suitable for batch manufacturing and distribution.

It might seem odd that a charity has embarked on such a process. However it encapsulates how Hubbub works, experimenting using research and creative solutions, then finding a way of making successful ideas available to others so that greater impact can be achieved. Any profits made from the Ballot Bin will go back into the charity and Hubbub’s ongoing work to explore fresh and creative approaches to tackling environmental issues.

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