Betacup: Mass Collaboration to Reinvent Coffee-on-the-Go

thebetacup: 60 Seconds To Save The World from the betacup on Vimeo.

I participated in a project called the Betacup, serving as a communications contributor and jury member. The project sought to collaboratively engage a crowd to solve a tremendous environmental issue that gets little attention: the incomprehensible amounts of wasted resources due to the production, use, and disposal of disposable coffee cups. Americans alone put 2 billion cups a year in landfills, as they are not recyclable in their current form [UPDATE: actually, after completing the project it’s clear that the definition of recyclable is varied based on resources by geography].

Working with the rest of the team at Denuo (I finished my contribution while at BBH, as a 20% project) and Good Day Monsters, we created everything from a screensaver that quantifies the daily impact of cup disposal while counting down the time left to submit an entry to the 60-second video above that tries to show the impact in “real-time.”

The project was a success. Starbucks supported it by donating prize money, and the winning idea (called Karma Cup) will be rolling out in trial at select Starbucks.

A few salient points about the initiative:

  • The idea owner continues to own Karma Cup, while Starbucks is paying for its usage (i.e., submitting ideas was not the equivalent of waving ownership rights)
  • This wasn’t a crowd-sourcing initiative; it was built to be collaborative. Thus the use of the incredible platform and encourage of community participating beyond simply submitting ideas.
  • The core project team was highly varied and from multiple disciplines, intended to encourage intersectional innovation.

To see the project in its entirety, visit


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