Team members: Priscilla Lam (SFU), Angelica Tso (UBC)

Every week, Vancouver throws out an average 2.6 million disposable cups. Emissions from landfills likewise account for 20% of Canada’s national methane emissions. On a macro level, we believe the disposable cup issue is a symptom of our throwaway culture that values personal convenience at the expense of negative socio-environmental externalities—caused by a fundamental disconnect between people and the natural ecosystem. One solution we believe is not being leveraged enough is encouraging consumers to bring their own cups when buying to-go drinks. 

Our project — BYO — will be a mobile app-based program that motivates individuals to bring their own cup through a variety of mechanisms such as rewards and impact tracking. On top of incentivizing bring-your-own-cup behavior, a portion of the usual cup discount will be allocated towards a tree planting initiative. By incorporating tree planting, we seek to extend our impact beyond cup waste — encouraging customers and cafes alike to think bigger while sparking conversations around the larger collective role of consumer practices. The project is a unique combination of cup waste reduction, rewards, tree planting, and community building.

Community partners:

Local cafe community in the City of Vancouver

Project updates:

PRISCILLA LAM: We are so grateful for the support of SFU’s Office of Community Engagement. The funding was used to bring on a team of student developers and designers - all of whom have reported that it was a beneficial skill-development opportunity. The recognition from winning the 2021 SCEC also helped us and our cafe partners feel confident in the project. In addition to being proud of receiving the Office’s support and recognition, we’re also extremely proud of our impact. To date we’ve diverted 400+ single use cups and are committed to funding 80+ trees to be planted around the world. On top of that, we’ve inspired people across Metro Vancouver to take action on waste reduction.

In the coming weeks of August 2022, we will be working with our app team and community partners (cafes, reward partners, supporters) to wrap up the project.

2020-21 Grand Prize Award winner