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The Fascinating Relationship Between Good Design and Behaviour Change

URBAG® is born of a simple question: in the age of innovation and climate change, why are we still using single-use plastic garment covers?

Banning nasty chemicals and improving wastewater processes are at the forefront of the dry-cleaning and laundry services industry's agenda, but no one talks about the plastic issue, which is equally dramatic. It's a shocking 36.5 million meters of single-use plastic sheets are sent to landfills, every year. In the UK alone!

I looked for alternatives but couldn't find any that were easy to use. I soon realised that the lack of sustainable consumer product alternatives and behaviour change were the reasons why nothing was changing. The entire industry had moved from paper wrapping to polyester garment covers, and the plastic is deeply engrained in the dry-cleaners' processes and operations.

How do you address behaviour change?

A theory developed by Sarah Mitchie, the Behaviour Change Wheel*, found that there were three key drivers of behaviour change; motivation and capability, which are internal conditions, and opportunity, which is an external condition. These are all interlinked and can influence each other.

In our case, and besides the plastic taxes and new regulations being implemented by local governments (external conditions), we needed to bring education (motivation) and capability (a new design) to customers and industry professionals.

But what is a good design?

Good design for me meant bringing more convenience and style to help look after our clothes whilst avoiding using more plastic.

We needed to rethink the entire journey to and from our local dry-cleaner, and bring a new design to increase convenience; that is reusable, easy to use, and acceptable by dry-cleaners.

We needed a new solution that customers didn't know they needed.

A design that becomes quickly something they can't do without because it's more convenient, it simplifies their life at every touchpoint of their relationship with dry-cleaners, and it's beautiful. Good design is also in the aesthetic. It has to be desirable, so it has to be stylish.

When I decided to tackle this issue and create a new design, I had no experience in fashion, textile, or design.

So how do you start when you don't know where to start? And how do you help customers transform their intentions into good habits?

This is URBAG's journey on how good design led to behaviour change.

In our 'Good Design and Behaviour Change' Series, we will explore the 3 key pillars of our thought process to design an industry-changing solution. Changing our world, one dry-cleaner at a time.

Pillar 1: Understanding the barriers: Why aren't people already doing it?

Pillar 2: Spot the opportunities: Where in people's patterns and habits is there an opportunity to change?

Pillar 3: Come up with interventions: Break the barriers and use the opportunities to design interventions.

Read more on our education campaign:

- Back to the office, Differently, with the support of Brett Staniland, fashion model and editor of Sustainable Fashion

- The Key Role of Businesses in Pro-environmental Behaviour, with Kelly Moir, Director of Impact and sustainability at BT Enterprise

- Visit our Instagram page: @weareurbag



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