SF Residents Save The Environment, Get Free Coffee

This spring, the San Francisco Department of the Environment (SFE) launched an in-city media ad campaign, created by San Francisco-based agency School of Thought, to encourage residents to be more environmentally conscious to reach the city's goal of "Zero Waste" by 2020.  

Already, the campaign has raised awareness about the lack of cemeteries by proclaiming: “If we can’t bury grandma in the city, we surely can’t handle your extra coffee cups." Another acknowledges the lack of space for landfills by asking: “Do you really want the city 7x7x7?” 

Most recently, the campaign aimed to get commuters not to import more garbage — paper cups, or worse, Styrofoam — into the city.  

The initiative partnered with recyclable manufacturer Cuppow to introduce a temporary streetside coffee stand, constructed wholly of repurposed cardboard boxes, tubing and packing straps, across from a ferry terminal. This temporary stand was covered with anti-waste messaging, including infographics that emphasize how San Francisco is seriously short of landfill area, posters proclaiming “Coffee Tastes Better when the Cup isn't Tossed," and the campaign slogan, “BYOC” Bring Your Own Cup. 



For three days (July 20-22), those carrying their own reusable cups were offered free coffee. Those without -- limited to the first 200 each day -- were able to receive a free reusable travel mug, if they’d post an event photo or message to #SFThingToDo. 

The event was supported by paid Facebook and Twitter advertising and by “borrowed” social via those posting to the #SFThingToDo hashtag to get their free cups. 

San Francisco Environment also promoted the event on its owned Facebook and Twitter channels. The project also attracted a corporate partner — Marley Coffee — which supplied coffee. There was “incredible synergy between their goals [Marley’s] and ours," says Joe Newfield, cofounder/creative director, School of Thought.   

In all, the campaign achieved its goals, both online and offline. "We’ve gotten hundreds of social media mentions," says Tom Geary, cofounder/creative director, School of Thought. "The cups are a huge draw.”  

Looking forward, the initiative will expand to two other San Francisco locations, although exact details are still being finalized. 

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