Disposable Mug
A collapsible one-use mug meant for washing after using public lavatories on India's trains

When travelling by train in India, seats are rarelt available and it’s not unusual that many passengers have to sit in the aisles. Needless to say, public toilets are virtually inaccessible for most travelers as well.

“We Indians prefer to use water to wash ourselves, instead of using toilet paper,” explains designer Paul Sandip. “But, there’s no product catering to this need, so people carry maybe empty water bottles or teacups. “Water is supplied on the trains, with taps in each public lavatory. But without containers, it’s useless to travelers.”

The Disposible Mug is inexpensive solution designed to be purchased right on the train platform. It’s foldable and environmentally friendly – so it can be easily and safely throw away.

“I started exploring materials and came across a particular type of paper which had both the strength to withstand 1.2 liters of water, but which could also be glued with organic glue, and thirdly, that would disintegrate after some point in time,” said Sandip. “I needed to connect these three different ideas of hygiene, portability and eco-friendliness.”

Sandip comes from “an ancient part of India,” in the Kolkata region of portable in West Bengal, known to some by its anglicized name, Calcutta. “There, we have a type of paper for vendors to use in selling food. After you use it, you can just throw it away. And those packages are made from recycled newspapers.”

Using this paper as his starting point, Sandip has test-marketed his Disposable Mug with the state railway’s cooperation on one of its longest lines. The designer is now working to find sponsors who will pay for the paper and glue in exchange for advertisements printed on the mugs.

“The idea is to have it manufactured by the people who live in slums by the train lines,” he said. “This would give them something to sell and makes the product accessible all over the country.”

Designed by
Sandip Paul - India