Insights, News 20/10/2020

Leather Lane Market: Using Nudge Design to replace single-use takeaway packaging


Tashi Van Der Waerden / Echo and Clare Gallagher / Vivid Meaning

In this historic moment of pause, we have a chance to create new sustainable habits. Removing single-use takeaway packaging must be one of the most important and daunting challenges we face. Starting with our own front yard we’ve been working on a solution to packaging waste for our favourite street food market.

Our studio is one street over from Leather Lane Market. A true global village with vendors, recipes and mouth-watering aromas from around the world. During pre-COVID workdays we would enjoy the convenience of a hot lunch from The Tempeh Man or pOrX in a single-use container. When we stopped to think about it though, it seemed likely the market generates 250,000 pieces of packaging annually. Each destined for the bin within an hour. Start to multiply that across all the food markets and urban centres and you have a huge cost to the environment. Plus, that’s without adding on the millions of takeaway businesses as well.  Now, with most of Leather Lane Market in hiatus, we have a rare chance to redesign the system and our behaviour with a circular packaging solution.

We spoke to stall holders and Camden Council to see how we could get involved. They agreed that disposable containers, cutlery, and all that unrecycled plastic need to be a thing of the past. We decided to create a reusable lunchbox that’s both beautiful and functional. Something to help bring back the energy and vibrancy to London’s vital market community. To aid a sustainable and successful return to trade.

Our 3D team set to work on designing the right shaped container for the wide array of cuisines on offer. One that’s also easy to clean and carry of course. Their solution is inspired by traditional earthenware bowls for a crafted, convenient and democratised design. Made from sustainable castor bean oil and recycled rubber they created this ‘nu-rustic’ terrazzo effect. The flexible eco-material expands and flexes to fit everything from dahl and pho to tacos and barbecue. A rigid lid and embossed strap ensure it stays shut, and you can flatten it down for when you’re on the go.

But the truth is, there are hundreds of thoughtfully designed reusable lunchboxes already available. What’s going to make this stick? How do we appeal beyond the eco warriors to the work-day warriors? Using our Nudge Design Method,we’re applying behavioural science principles to our lunchbox campaign.

First, the market needed an identity. You can read about that here.

Second, we’re building upon this momentum by launching the lunchbox as a piece of Leather Lane Market merchandise. Encouraging people to buy the bowl, not just for its practical and sustainable merits, but for what it represents. This affordable, utilitarian design matches the consumer-friendly prices and non-corporate ethos of the market. Thanks to Leather Lane’s low-rent policy, it has become a gateway for London’s budding food entrepreneurs. Connecting with that ideology, this bowl signals an appreciation of authentic food, independent business and inclusive community. This bowl is a little piece of the market that you can proudly carry with you.

While people’s routines have been disrupted, we have a rare opportunity to reset behaviour. And rather than needing everyone to come to the party for environmental reasons, we’re offering a range of immediate benefits. By designing in convenience, style and sociability, we can work with people’s innate human biases and appeal to our whole neighbourhood.

If you’d like to learn more about our Nudge Design Method and how we can apply it to your sustainability challenge, book a 30 minute introduction here.