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Messaging cup

Raising awareness about the true contents that cups are made from.

Photo of Ekaterina Egorova
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Idea Title

Messaging cup

Idea Summary

A series of prints designed to be placed on fiber cups to grab attention of consumers and help them learn about the real contents these cups are made of and the difficulties in recycling them.

Please include a visual (can be either 2D or 3D) representation/prototype of your concept. (required)

Research and Ideation

We gathered a team of 18 people with diverse professional backgrounds, many of them experts in the topics of recycling, ecology, industrial design, and material design. Series of observations in Moscow's cafes and restaurants were done and included brief but insightful conversations with consumers.

One of the main findings of our research was about the general unawareness about the true contents of "fiber" cups and their non-biodegradable nature which we witnessed from almost every person we spoke to.

The idea to inform people directly about this problem on the cup itself came up during our ideation session where we sought to tackle this and many other problems. Another insightful finding was about the "instagramable" nature of a cup. This gave us the understanding of how we can connect with the consumer - by a print that would both inform him/her and entice to share the information with friends.

The concept

A fiber cup receives a message that by its design attracts consumer's attention and shares a very important message - that the cup being held is not 100% fiber. This makes a person interested in learning more, and the cup then gives that possibility by offering a link to a website explaining the problem and solutions. The design of the print is such that it allows for easy sharing of new information with friends via social media.


We have done three iterations in which we evolved our idea and made the necessary changes along the way. We started with very simple and small prints which were seldom noticed during our tests. The bigger ones were a bit better, and the new approach with a bit more funnier and thus attractive messages worked out as well.

Next steps

We saw that the cup itself might not be the ideal place for the message for many reasons. One important observation was about people seldom paying enough attention to prints on the cup's surface because of the general visual clutter of such objects (advertisement, branding, etc). That is why we would like to also test the possibility of displaying these messages on the lid.

This solution addresses which of the following:

  • All of the Above

How is your concept recoverable?

With this solution, more people will become aware of the real content of these cups and ask themselves a question about their consumption behavior. The information the consumer will reach by following the QR code from the cup will tell him/her about the alternative solutions for consuming take-away hot and cold drinks on the go. Overall, this will help decrease the use of single-use cups, be they compostable/biodegradable or not.

What regions do you plan to address with your solution (and how will you accomplish this)?

This solution is universal and can be implemented globally.

Describe your target market. Who will benefit from your product?

The main beneficiaries of this solution: - consumers who will obtain new knowledge about alternatives to single-use fiber cup. They take possession of the cup, interact with it long enough for us to deliver this knowledge to them. - cafes and restaurants who will be able to show their focus on sustainability and eco-friendliness

What is the current stage of development of your idea?

  • Prototyping

What are the biggest challenges you are facing today? What are existing gaps in your solution?

- We are in need of more visual solutions for the prints. We need to make sure we can get the attention of consumers with something catchy and intriguing. - We need to gain trust from at least several cafe chains to test this solution at their locations

Mentorship Needs (please select up to 3)

  • Branding / Marketing and Storytelling
  • Legal
  • Fundraising / Finance

Tell us about yourself and your team. What is your background and experience?

There are 6 of us mentioned here, but we drew inspirations from many others who joined our first October meeting in Moscow. Collectively we represent diverse backgrounds and share many things in common, thoughtfulness about nature being just one.

In what city are you located?


In what country are you located?


Please describe how becoming a Top Idea will support the growth of your concept.

Becoming a top idea and receiving funding would allow us to find the design talent required to produce catchy instagramable messages that would attract enough attention. Another way to use the funding would be to implement this solution with a few local coffee shops by actually placing the cups there and observing customers, reaching deeper insights and, possibly, iterating on the designs further. Later on, this solution would need to be extended further by using other types of touchpoints.

How did you hear about the Challenge?

  • OpenIDEO announcement email

1 comment

Join the conversation:

Photo of Village Development  Center (VDC)

Hi Ekaterina Egorova , Achieving Food System Vision goals will be easy if me can create a network with you.