In the spring of 2015 I took a design thinking course and our semester long design prompt was taken from an OpenIDEO challenge:
How might we restore vibrancy in cities and regions facing economic decline?
During the initial inspiration phase litter seemed to be a problem for low-income communities. Just on my walk home alone there was litter commonly found in the gutters and overflowing city garbage cans.
Initial assumptions: Keeping one's streets clean can inspire pride in one's community. Taking pride in your community can lead to vibrancy.
Research shows that cigarette waste makes up almost half of all litter collected, costs thousands each year to clean up, and leak toxic chemicals. Many smokers interviewed were unaware of the toxicity of cigarette butts and some wrongfully believed that the butts were biodegradable. Despite knowing it is wrong, many smokers littered because of lack of cigarette receptacles.
Through the development of an awareness campaign and appropriate receptacle placement, we propose to create a cleaner and more beautiful campus by addressing proper cigarette litter disposal at NYU. This is a starting point for a larger-scale city-wide proposal that will help NYC combat cigarette litter and increase awareness amongst city residents. The dirty-street theory (our re-appropriation of the broken windows theory) teaches us that a littered street will encourage more littering, but a clean street encourages less littering and stimulates pride and ownership of the street.
By creating more awareness of the problem and providing receptacles, we hope to change smokers’ behaviors.