Saturday, April 11, 2009

At what point do you become too important to re-use

I have been noticing an interesting trend with the deteriorating economy and that's the increased use of disposables. I posted this query on my facebook status and got some interesting responses, so I'll put it here. Are you ever too important to use resusables. At my last two companies, I've noticed that individuals increasingly use disposable take away containers even if they are not taking it away. The same happens with disposable coffee cups by people each and every day.

When I ask people why they do this, the answer inevitably is that they are soooooooo busy. But really how much time does it take to wash a single coffee cup. A friend of mine at his company (highly successful Venture Capital firm) they basically made sure that reusable mugs were the default option.

Speaking of default options, what if instead of offering discounts for bringing your own mug you paid for using one. For instance Starbucks charges $1.65 for a cup of coffee, and gives a $0.10 discount for using your own cup. Why not charge $1.55 for a cup of coffee and another $0.10 for getting a disposable cup. The net economic effect would be the same from an economists point of view (same result) but the framing would be different and people do notice.

So much for rationality, let's start changing defaults.


At 8:09 PM , Blogger lauren said...

Re: changing defaults

Time magazine recently published an interesting article about behavioral economics and the Obama administration. There is quite a bit said about changing defaults as a way of changing behaviors. At the core, it's thought that humans are considered too lazy to make many beneficial changes on their own.

Read it here:,9171,1889153,00.html

At 8:12 PM , Blogger Charles said...

Thanks Lauren. Good stuff. We make a lot of assumption that things are the way they are because of good reason or the market has chosen them. That may be the case, but the original assumptions may not be true, or the original reason may have been "Just because"

At 11:35 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said... is online Directory of Disposable Cups Buyer & Seller.


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