UCL Grand Challenges


Support for New Research on "Wellbeing in a throw-away culture"

18 December 2019

UCL Grand Challenges has recently announced awards of a call to study the issue of "Wellbeing in a throw-away culture".


UCL's Grand Challenge Human Wellbeing (GCHW) will deliver the 2019-20 special initiative: "Wellbeing in a throw-away culture". As part of this initiative, GCHW has awarded support to the value of £13,262 to three research projects.

Applying behavioural science and systems mapping to optimise development of an intervention promoting reusable cup use


  • Ms Ayse Lisa Allison - Psychology and Language Sciences (Brain Sciences)
  • Professor Susan Michie - Psychology and Language Sciences (Brain Sciences)
  • Ms Danielle Purkiss - Civil, Environmental and Geomatic Engineering (Engineering Sciences)
  • Professor Mark Miodownik - Mechanical Engineering (Engineering Sciences)

To help achieve UCL’s sustainability aim of being single-use plastic free by 2024, UCL plans to implement a campus wide intervention to promote reusable ‘coffee cup’ use. The team will conduct qualitative interviews with UCL staff and students to investigate social context, barriers and enablers to implementing change, and factors influencing current reusable cup use behaviours. In addition, they will collect quantitative data by conducting spatial movement analyses of hot drink consumers ‘on the go’.
Designing the scheme on a theory- and evidence-informed understanding of behaviour will help maximise engagement and successful implementation.

Wellbeing in a ‘throwaway culture’

Preloved t-shirts and well-being: Research-led augmented art for community engagement on clothing waste


  • Dr Gesche Huebner – School of Environment, Energy and Resources (Bartlett)
  • Dr Farhang Tahmasebi - Institute for Environmental Design and Engineering (Bartlett)
  • Solmaz Farhang - Freelance visual artist and illustrator

A salient problem with the throw-away culture is that it appears to be the cure for the unhappiness that it actually causes. In this context, the project will investigate potential future scenarios of the throw-away culture, estimate the implications for environment and well-being, and provide an interactive art-based output to engage the public with the research findings. More specifically, the study will focus on t-shirts as an illustrative example and quantify its use in different future scenarios, one of which being an increased inclination toward second-hand t-shirts.
The team will perform the live printing and showing of an augmented reality world showing the environmental and social impacts associated with mass-produced clothing in public spaces.

Preloved t-shirts and well-being

Preliminary Research for Place-based Digital Coordination of Sharing in Health/Care Communities


  • Dr Evangelia Chrysikou – Real Estate Institute (Bartlett)
  • Dr Enrico Costanzo - UCL Interaction Centre (Brain Sciences and Engineering Sciences)
  • Ms Larissa Lai – Institute for Global Prosperity (Bartlett)
  • Dr Giacomo Livan - Computer Science (Engineering Sciences)

The community health approach to health and wellbeing has been increasingly popular in areas of population health and social care for the physical and mental health benefits of both socialization and social support. This project aims to explore the use of the technology behind these digital platforms in informing health planning, by conducting focus groups and interviews with residents and staff at healthcare communities. This will be followed by an open symposium where researchers, experts, and stakeholders will discuss the technical, social, and implementational nuances of sharing platforms in health/care community settings, and foster collaborations in preparation of developing a greater digital management system that integrates sharing into care coordination embedded into the fabric of buildings.

Preliminary Research for Place-based Digital Coordination of Sharing in Health/Care Communities