This blog forms part of our wider Brands Driving Positive Change blog series, we’ll be uploading a new post every week so keep checking back for the latest thoughts on what it means to be a force for good…

The world of plastic is under threat.

Bottles, straws, even cotton buds are the devil in plain sight that we must purge from our societies (if the recent media hype is to be believed). But whilst it’s undeniably good that as a society we should reflect on how much plastic we consume…are we so apathetic to the plight of the environment that only top-down taxes and bans will provoke any kind of reaction?

It would seem at first glance, yes. Shifting consumer behaviour is tough. Taxation seems to work better than just asking nicely, if such examples as the 5p plastic bag tax dropping consumption of single use plastic bags by 85% is anything to go by.

But what if there was another way? What if you flipped the challenge and made recycling cool, even desirable?

Enter Chilly’s; the fashionable water bottle brand that has seemingly landed on office desks across the country overnight.

Founded by two entrepreneurs, James Butterfield and Tim Bouscarle, who tired of the Shoreditch digital marketing rat race, Chilly’s offer a range of slick-looking metallic water bottles that use “double wall vacuum insulation” technology to keep water cool for up to 24 hours and hot drinks warm for 12. They see design as key to their success: “our goal is to make products people love so much they don’t want to use single use stuff anymore” said Mr Butterfield.

Chilly’s have made water bottles desirable, not just functional. They look great, and they work well. You’re more likely to have your Chilly’s bottle with you and want to fill it up, rather than the manky old plastic one you accidently warped out of shape during a dishwasher hot wash.

Pret A Manger, the premium sandwich chain not known to miss a trick when it comes to sustainability, have spotted an opportunity to reinforce their environmental credentials and collaborate with the start-up. In an effort to reduce the amount of single-use plastic they use in stores, Pret have launched with Chilly’s its own range of water bottles, designed in keeping with Pret’s iconic food imagery, for £25 a pop.

All this leads me to a sustainability question for brands: if you want to get consumers to change their behaviour for the better, sometimes the carrot is better than the stick. Who would have thought a thermos flask might well become the darling of the sustainability world?

BY ENGINEER Tom Speed

tom.speed@thevalueengineers.com