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The Beautiful Butter Theory

Will users choose a plastic-free, aesthetically pleasing butter pat over one that's in a small plastic container?

Photo of Jane Lien
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This is an experiment to see if people will treat a food item more preciously if it is presented in a way that is aesthetically pleasing. Food establishments often use prepackaged butter as a way to easily serve customers AND portion the butter, so there is reduced food waste (and cost). However, it is at the cost of more plastic waste. 

The theory is that users may use less butter if it is aesthetically pleasing. On many occasions, items that are well crafted and/or crafted from quality materials receive better care. If less butter is used, there is more of an argument for "well crafted" butter pats to be used, instead of the plastic packets of butter. 

Idea Title

The Beautiful Butter Theory

Where are you / your team located?

Detroit, Michigan, USA

How does this Idea redesign unrecyclable small format plastic items that often end up as waste?

Instead of using unrecyclable small format plastic to serve butter pats, food establishments can use small reusable plates to serve aesthetically pleasing butter pats. The molded butter pats could come in a larger container that would either be recyclable or compostable.

Which use cases does your Idea apply to?

Carmen, Hotel Owner in Mexico City, Mexico

In what geographical context or area does your Idea plan to operate / solve?

non-region specific

How do you envision scaling up your Idea?

Are there other food items that could be redesigned and then repackaged?

At what stage of development is your Idea?

  • Research & Early Testing: You are exploring an idea, gathering inspiration and information needed to test it with real users.

Please describe how becoming a Top Idea and working with the Think Beyond Plastics Accelerator Program will help to accelerate your solution.

First, research needs to be conducted to prove this theory. If the theory is correct, more research could be conducted into how this product redesign could be mass manufactured and distributed. It would also be great to look into how this idea can apply in other food packaging situations.

Please describe from where your Idea emerged

Team brainstorm

Tell us about your work experience

I have over 10 years of design experience, with two years of experience in the entrepreneurship space as a startup co-founder. Currently working as a UX designer at a large company.


Join the conversation:

Photo of Rhiannon Hunt

This is such a beautiful idea. I can imagine hotels and restaurants asking for butter in the shape of their logo! Could the butter be delivered in reusable moulds, which could be returned to the supplier on the next delivery maybe?

Photo of Jane Lien

Rhiannon Hunt Oooo I like that idea! Thanks!!

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