Student designs new water fountain signs to help promote SDGs across campus


A Product Design student from De Montfort University, Leicester (DMU) has used his creative skills to help reduce plastic waste on campus.

While on a placement year with DMU’s Sustainability team, Ross Kelly thought up a way to encourage staff and students to use the water fountains across campus, instead of single-use plastic bottles.

Ross, who now works for a design company after graduating, came up with an attractive design for signs pointing the fountains out – and made sure the designs themselves were sustainable.

water fountain

He spent his final-year placement on this project before it had to be postponed due to the pandemic, just as his final design was due to be produced.

Now, three years later, his handiwork can be seen across the university.

Ross said: “We created the idea by using my graphic design skills to help promote important sustainable messages around campus and after many discussions we homed in on focusing on the water fountains.

“There are a lot of water fountains across campus, that not everyone knows about so we felt it was a good fit to support Sustainable Development Goal 3 ‘Good Health and Wellbeing’ and Sustainable Development Goal 12 ‘Responsible Consumption and Production.’

“This gave us the idea to try and promote water fountains across the university to reduce single use plastics on campus and from that I started my design process.”

Not only do the signs encourage the reduction in single plastic usage and promote the SDGs they are also made from a PVC-free material and  they are 100% recyclable.

Ross continued: “I did a lot of research of other examples out there, other good examples were at train stations and airports where they promote their water fountains, to save people buying plastic.

“I thought long and hard about what I wanted and what we wanted as a university to get from the signs and promoting the SDGs was top of the list.

“Despite the delay due to the pandemic, and water fountains being taken away for some time, and I may have graduated now but it’s pretty cool and a nice feeling thinking something I created is being used at my uni, something nice to leave behind, it’s a good feeling.”

 DMU Sustainability Manager, Karl Letten, said: “The university had invested in installing a large number of water fountains across campus but we were finding that students and staff didn’t know where they were.

“So, we came up with the idea for some bright and engaging visuals that promoted the water fountains and the sustainable development goals. Ross’ designs are absolutely fantastic!

“Not only are they bright and engaging but they really get the message across about the SDGs and reducing plastic waste.”

 The DMU Sustainability team were also helped by two other placement students, Antonia Hayward and Daria Brazhnyk, who helped to finalise the project and get the signs up across campus.

Ross went on to graduate with a First-Class honour’s degree, and is now working in a company as a Designer Maker creating bespoke work for clients.

He said: “Its DMU that led me to this path, I work with clients to design and manufacture bespoke products and items of furniture.

"Alongside this, I design and manufacture Stalls and POS for music, drink and food festivals for their brand activations.

“I really enjoy it, I get time in the office to design something and then get time to actually make it, you don’t normally get to do both, I get to see a project from start to finish and it’s really rewarding.”

Before landing his dream role, Ross took eight months working at University of Bath in another sustainability role working in energy, he said: “You can have more than one passion, but for now I am happy in my current role.”

Posted on Monday 23rd January 2023

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