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The Gourd Cup

This is an 100% organic and biodegradable cup that you can just throw away and it will go back into the earth naturally.

Photo of Abie Kanu
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Idea Title

Idea Summary

This a a plant based cup that can be seen as an alternate solution to the fiber based cup, as it holds hot liquids, cold liquids and can still be discarded normally and recycled back into the earth.

Jun Aizaki, the owner of Creme Design a New York, design studio, researched and found a creative way to possibly redesign cups so they are not so wasteful. He thought of the material Gourd is a large fruit and in the past has been typically used for containers in parts of the world like Asia, South America and Africa.The trouble he ran into was growing the cups instead of manufacturing them as the length to grow them is long and tedious. But he was able to mold these gourds with 3D printed molds into 2 unique cup shapes. A stackable cup and flask looking cup with a narrow opening. So finding a way to make the production process easier and faster would enable these cups to be used as a different form biodegradable and organic cup that can be recycled into the earth. They specifically wanted a way to make the drying process faster and I think one way that could happening would be using a heated drying cabinet with digital temperature control. This is typically used when drying pottery pieces and can hopefully dry the gourd faster than leaving it out in the sun. Another way would be growing the gourd in a controlled environment so the growth and drying would not be dependent on outdoor weather conditions. In the end cups are able to insulate hold hot and cold liquids easily and still be able to be thrown away using a conventional disposal method while being put back into the earth.

This solution addresses which of the following:

  • Hot Cup Only
  • Cold Cup Only
  • Alternative Delivery System

What is the current stage of development of your idea?

  • Research & Early Testing

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

The process of growing and molding the fruit can be a long process. The growth of the fruit takes about a month and then a couple weeks after that to fully develop. Once gourd is to the desired size, it takes another 2 or 3 months of the plant to sit in the sun for it to dry enough for anything to be drinking out of it. Therefore, making the production process simpler and faster will be a challenge to make these cups in big bulks.

Mentorship Needs (please select up to 3)

  • Materials and Technical Development
  • Sustainability and Recoverability
  • Growth and Scaling

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

Student at VCU studies Business, information technology and human centered design.

In what city are you located?

VCU in Richmond, VA

In what country are you located?


How did you hear about the Challenge?

  • Someone in my network (word of mouth)


Join the conversation:

Photo of Ronald Chen

approx how much would each cup cost?

Photo of Koldun Victor

An ordinary cardboard cup breaks down in the natural environment roughly in a year or thereabout. Approximately how the fallen leaves does, consisting of the same cellulose. In order for the new material for the production of cups to become a cost effective replacement of cardboard, it should decompose order faster, somewhere in a month, maybe two or three. This is at an average temperature of 15 degrees Celsius (according to NASA). But when we pour water near a boiling point, at a temperature of 95 degrees, into such cup , according to the rule of Svante August Arrhenius, all the chemical processes in it, including the self-decay of complex molecules, respectively, accelerate. The minimum acceleration will be somewhere 250 times, and the maximum will be about 65,000 times. That is, for a disposable cup that has been filled for at least an hour, and this is a real situation somewhere on a picnic, there is all the chances to pour out their content on the table at best , at worst, on himself or his electronic devices. Even if this cup was made a few days before that and was stored in a stock in perfect conditions.
Therefore, the question arises - how do you deal with such issue?

Photo of Lauren Ito

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