The Games We Play

Archive for the ‘Nudges’ Category

9:30 am tuesday, Old campus basement9:30 am tuesday, Old campus 1st floor9:30 am tuesday, Old campus cafeteria

The current consumption and usage patterns of students and teachers with the water coolers in Srishti are not economical and create wastage of water. The current set up at each water cooler in Old Campus is that each floor has its own water cooler with a shelf beside it which has around 30 plastic cups that people use to get a glass of water. After drinking from the cup the user throws the cup in a bucket next to the cooler. When the bucket gets filled with cups one of the maintenance staff washes/rinses all the glasses and keeps them back in the shelf.

Wastage of water happens in various ways:

  • The glasses (plastic cups) need to be washed at regular intervals throughout the day.
  • People use these glasses as paint containers at times- this makes the glass look dirty even though it’s probably just stained. A person picking up such a glass rinses it again before using it. Rinsing it probably doesn’t remove the paint stain but possibly gives some sort of mental satisfaction.
  • People pour themselves a full glass of water- drink half and chuck the rest.

Possible solutions or alternatives for the current system:

  • Have one or two glasses on top of each cooler. People will have to use the same glass and not touch it to their mouth. In this sort of system people will have to trust that everyone is drinking from the glass in a hygienic way.
  • Keep the glasses further away from the cooler. Make the “cost” of deciding to use a fresh glass every time more.
  • Put a price to using a fresh glass. Like a small fee (1 rupee?) for every time a person wants to use a new glass.
  • Remove glasses all together and force people to bring their own bottles.

Sign 1 put up on all coolers at Old campus

For my nudge I used a combination of two of the solutions. Yesterday, 11th of August I put up a sign on each water cooler saying- “In an attempt to reduce the wastage of water and limit the spread of illness tomorrow is “Bring your own water bottle to college day”. The signs were up by around 11 in the morning so that everyone in Old campus would have had a chance to see the sign by the evening.

Sign 1

Today , 12th august, I arrived early to college (before any of the students or faculty) and wiped the top of the coolers, removed the previous days signs, removed the buckets next to the coolers, hid all the glasses except 2 for each cooler and put up a new sign saying- “Forgot to bring a bottle? Share these glasses – just make sure you don’t touch your mouth to the rim. The top of the water cooler has been cleaned thoroughly. Please leave the glass on top after use.”

Wednesday morning 8:00 am

Sign 2

At the end of the day, I replaced all the glasses to their shelves, put back the buckets in their place and put p a new sign “How much water would we save if there wasn’t a constant need to wash glasses? Help reduce wastage of water- bring your own bottle.”

Sign 3

My point is to promote the idea of everyone bringing their own bottles for water to college and reduce the amount if water wasted with the current system.


“lake vs loo”

80% of the diseases in developing countries like India are caused by contaminated water and inadequate sanitation.

Human waste is responsible for the transmission of cholera, typhoid, etc that affect billions of people.

The Puttanhalli kere is a popular hotspot for men of that area who need a place to pee. By peeing into the kere/ tank/ lake they further their own chances of contracting water related diseases.

For this i found and transported a commode to puttanhalli kere and set it up there along with sign boards that pointed to the loo and the lake. I put up an explanation (like that above) on the seat of the commode.

The commode had to be transported at night and i was thus unable to take photographs. When i returned the next morning the commode had been smashed to pieces. Someone dd not take to the idea too well.





“millions of dead babies”

Every 8 seconds, a child dies from a water-related disease. Diarrhoea claims the lives of nearly 6000 children a day – that is over two million deaths a year.

Human waste is responsible for the transmission of cholera, typhoid, etc that affect billions of people.

In India, less than 15% of sewage from the toilets are actively treated by the sewage treatment plants. The rest are released into water bodies and landfills contaminating water and spreading disease.
Contaminated water and inadequate sanitation cause over 80% of all disease in developing countries.

Each flush converts 6 galleons of water into sewage. A partial flush uses only 2 galleons, a pour flush toilet even less. The lesser the water used to flush, the lesser the untreated sewage contaminating water and spreading disease.

For this idea, I made a ring, similar to a regulator marking to put around the flush. The marking show the number of babies you kill when you push the flush. The harder you push it, the greater the number of dead babies.
I borrowed a few house keys from the P.G house and put these up around the flushes when no one in the house was at home.



“Leaky Taps”

One leaking tap wastes 75 litres of water per day.
Less than 50% of the world has access to clean water.

Next to several leaking public taps, I put up a speech bubble that said, “ Millions die when I leak” and hung a plug from the tap to stop the leak.



As modern designed taps come into use, one should ask himself – Is it Eco-friendly?

If not, what can I do to reduce the wastage of water or conserve it?

I have used the Zip-lock bag as a metaphor for ‘Preservation’ of the excess water that is let out by the tap when NOT in use.



The tap in focus here works on a push down control and a shut-off function. So when a user presses the knob, the water continues to flow for 15 seconds and most of the time excess water is let out and wasted.



In my installation, a zip-lock bag is tied around the nozzle of the taps as a symbolic representation of collecting the excess water and preserving it for future use. The entire form is created to provoke some thoughts and questions in the user’s (viewer) mind. Out of the five taps, I have covered four taps with these zip-lock bags hence allowing people to go through all the blocked taps to use the opened one in the end. The text on the mirror provides extra aid to evoke a thought in people’s mind.

user A

Questions to ask your-self:

How much water do I use from this tap?

Can I avoid the wastage of water? Is it by avoiding the usage of such taps?

To what extent can design be eco-friendly in its function as well as modern in its form?

How much difference do I make by changing my choice consciously in order to save water?

user B


At first people didn’t notice the intervention until they went close to the tap and ‘almost’ press down the knob. They would pause and read the note on the mirror. The rest of the few minutes, before they move on to the open tap, either goes by in thinking about the wasted water from the tap, or by mere irritated reaction for having going through four blocked taps. But either ways there is some kind of thought that evokes in the viewer’s mind that in future (if the installation is carried for a longer period) will make people more aware and sensitive regarding the issue of water wastage in any form.


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There are many little ways that one can conserve water. It could be as simple as turning off the taps while brushing. But all these little things make a difference in the end.

I chose to create a nudge that would create awareness about little easy ways one could contribute to save water. Most of us have read fact sheets, and felt that we should do something- but how many of us have?

save water - save lives_two

In this poster – it is giving the consequences and the solutions to prevent having to carry water to your home everyday. If one reads that the children from their neighborhood are already being trained to carry water from a kilometer away, it would certainly create sympathy for the young children.

In the poster I have listed 3 simple solutions:

  1. To avoid flushing unnecessarily – it is said that if a household avoids one flush a day, it can save up to 1,157 gallons of water annually.
  2. Take shorter showers – if you shorten your shower by a minute or two and you’ll save up to 150 gallons per month.
  3. Pee in the shower – it is harmless (unless you have hepatitis) and you save water and money.

Learning’s and observations:  What a nudge was. How difficult it was to create one. I learnt that there are so many ways little ways in which one could conserve water.  The amount of water that is used by one flush, and how much we could save by avoiding unnecessary flushing.

Most people read posters – react to it but do not act

The kids at the school next door are being trained to walk a Km to fetch water.

You could be joining the training programme too.

Prepare yourself!
Consequences are catching up because most people have ignored the little ways to save water.

Since you are not going to help fetch water. You could at least :

* Avoid flushing unnecessarily.
* Take shorter showers and
* Pee in the shower.

This will save litres of water and thousands of Lives

‘Stretch yourself to stretch water resources’

poster 2

poster 2save pani

save pani



Feed Back on Facebook Notes:

I asked girls in my pg about how much time do they spend in morning in bathroom and it was approximately 20 mins. Out of which they spend 15 mins taking bath and rest of the time in brushing their teeth and in nature’s call. Then I found out how much water does a shower, flush and faucet use in that much time.

Which came down to
Amount of water used in shower in 15 mins is 135L approx.
Amount of water used in flush is 6L approx.
Amount of water used in faucet per min is 7L approx.

Which comes to 151L!!
which is 79 people’s per day intake of water.
which could also grow 11 tomatoes or 6 potatoes or 2 apples
which can also make 4 cups of tea or 1.5 cups of coffee or 1/2 a glass of milk or 3.5 slices of bread.

The idea behind doing this set up was to make them realise that how much water is being wasted and how the same amount of water can be used for something more useful for eg. growing fruits or vegetables.

Shower Vs Bucket

I made a small set up at in a friend’s bathroom to see what their reaction was, when they entered. I tied a bucket to the top of the shower to collect any water that came from it, i.e. making the shower un-useable. Another bucket was placed under the taps and both had labels stuck to them. The top one saying ‘Look Down’ and the Bottom onesaying ‘Pick me!’


Later one could re-visit the little paragraph of the bucket on top that reads Don’t look at me! He is better off really. A shower uses up to 160L of water, even a short one, up to 80L. That’s a lot of water! Even if you use 2-3 buckets of water, you would still be using half the amount of water used in a shower.’


Many people use the shower frivolously, without knowing how much water it wastes. Some assume that short showers save water! In fact, a bucket is only 18L and is more than sufficient for a normal bath and is 1/10th the amount a 5 minute shower takes! So this is a way to tell people to choose the good old bucket!

Drip Drip Drip

A small drip from a faucet can waste as much as 75 litres of water a day!

That is a massive amount. It seemed really drastic to me when I visualised it in terms of bottled water bottles. So, I decided to make it a small interactive activity. I made cut-outs of  1  litre pet bottles and asked my friends to guess how much water gets wasted in half a day, say the time they are in college, from a dripping tap in their house. They were then to place that many bottles in their wash basin which had a dripping tap, to symbolise the amount of water wasted. Each one made their estimate. Once they were done, I placed the actual amount of water that gets wasted and it was 5 times as much as their estimates. I hope they either try and collect this water in buckets or try and gets their dripping taps fixed after this!

Each bottle is one litre of water.




2 of them guessed 6 litres and one guessed 7


But actually, if a tap drips for half a day, around 35 litres of water is lost!



Flush Series

Toilets use about 30% of the total water used in a household. An old style single flush toilet used up to 13 litres of water in one flush. New, more water-efficient dual-flush toilets use 6 litres for a full flush and 4 litres with a reduced flush. That’s still a lot of water for a single flush! To remind how much water we are actually using, here are a few provocative statements acting as nudges I had put up in the girls loo’s in the old campus.

A slice of apple in the loo with text that says “Each time you push this lever down; you are just flushing down the amount of water needed to obtain a slice of apple. Feed it to someone instead”


Another one that says “Each time you push this lever down; you are flushing down enough water for a person’s consumption for a whole day”


The final one shows an image of ten 10L pet bottles filled with water, informing the user of the loo that they use about 10L of water each time they flush and this could be saved and used elsewhere!


The alternative options would be to use buckets to flush or a reduced flush which uses the minimum amount of water needed in the right force. The ones we have in college right now use a massive amount of water for no reason!


The faucet was not executed in real life because of resources, time and skill contstraints, and I decided to do another small nudge. With some research and help from the eco sanitation students, I found out that an average flush uses about 6 litres of water per flush, and 4 if used halfway through. I was quite surprised. I wonder if anyone manages to drink more than one litre of water per day!

Most houses in yelahanka and the new campus uses a typical flushing system, where one has to turn a knob. I created a regulator, which shows how much water would be used up if pressed uptill the indicated point. Its a simple nudge to make people use less water, especially when its only pee.

The Wasteful Faucet
» Often people do not shut taps properly causing unnecessary water wastage.
» We use our hands to turn them, and it becomes a reservoir of germs.

The NUDGE here is to completely eradicate the choice of using hands to turn on the tap, and instead, use the FEET.

Whats good about this?
» Prevents wasteful consumption caused by taps not turned off properly

» There is minimal effort on the behalf of the user

» One does not have to deal with grime and grease lefton the taps by previous users.