The Test Tubes, a trash tube for stacking disposable cups, minus the lids.

I have collected the Test Tube news here, and I will also be adding the occasional update. After all, not everybody is on facebook. Like the blogroll, the latest news float to the top, so if you need to start from the beginning, just scroll all the way down. Or, if you are on Facebook, follow the progress here.


The Test Tubes. Just when you thought everyone had forgotten about them? Unforgettable, that's what they are. Ha ha. Mentioned in:

Huffington Post Quebec, March 2016



Greetings from the new Israels Plads (October 11 2014)

I checked out the new Israels Plads (Israels Square) today. Just knowing it would be the obvious cup litter hot spot. And behold, Copen-we-don't-have-a-cup-litter-problem-hagen:


Reprogramming The City, DAC (Oct. 2014)

The Test Tubes on exhibition at Danish Centre of Architecture "Reprogramming The City"


Return of the Test Tubes (October 2 2014)

I experienced something yesterday that can best be described as joy of recognition, attending the opening of Reprogramming The City, an exhibition in the Danish Centre of Architecture. It is curated by urban strategist Scott Burnham, with whom I apparently share my view of the urban space, and its endless possibilities. A quote from the catalogue boils it all down:

"We have the ability to solve some of the most pressing urban problems by using what we already have in new ways" 

Longtime readers will know where I am going with this...


From a decade of running my own accessories business with limited resources, I had this down to a fine art: Work to the greatest extent with what you already have, and adapt it to fit the market. Moving from fashion accessories to urban solutions was not a big leap. My cup stacking Test Tubes were just that: accessories for the urban space.

The problem:

Cup litter

The solution:

Pictogram Test Tube

The Test Tube, offering people an opportunity to prove to the city that cup litter is not a case of laziness or ill will, but a last resort. (How I miss the poster free trash can, ugh!)

It all began with a humble set of painted cardboard postal tubes, mounted on a couple of trash cans on Queen Louises Bridge. Ignored by the city, but embraced by the internet to the extent that the city was forced to give them a try (thank you, internet). Enter the aluminum prototype.

After a trial period, the cleaning department shut down the tubes, by reason of denial: Copen-we-don’t-have-a-cup-litter-problem-hagen. But as we all know denying a problem is there, doesn't make it go away. Nor will the solution: two years after the first cardboard edition hit the bridge, the aluminum prototype have made it to the Danish Centre of Architecture, where it will be on display for the next three months. Ha!

Once the dust settles, I will return to the exhibition, and give you a full report. There are so many great ideas for the urban space out there, and so many untapped resources. I can't get over what a privilege it is to be included in this show, and had to ask the curator, how he came across the Test Tubes, all the way from Boston? Oh, said my newfound urban hero: I follow your blog.

Reprogramming The City on DAC  Oct 1 2014 - Jan 4 2015
The Test Tubes on Facebook

 Link to the original post here, in case you want to leave a comment.


How do you spell irony? (September 20 2013) 

Would you look at that? Ha! Someone alerted me to this coffee shop on Hauser Plads, Riccos, with a nice cup-trash-tube mounted at the entrance (look closely). I asked them how it worked for them, and it was like hearing myself talk: people love and use them, it makes sense to stack your cups and not have it take up ridiculous amounts of space in the trashcan.

But my favorite part is that this place is right in front of the entrance of the city's cleaning department. Literally. Tell me that didn't put a nice smile on your face for the weekend? Hahaha.

(september 2013)

The evaluation is here (March 13 2013)

Brace yourself, the cleaning department Center for Renhold’s evaluation is finally here. Stating that the tubes on the bridge were used frequently (yay), but according to the cleaning people we don’t have a cup litter problem in Copenhagen (wait, what?). And, the Test Tubes were not helpful on the bridge. Also they were time consuming and difficult to empty, and several citizens have been in touch to inquire what they were for. Several tubes have been vandalized (stickers = vandalism?).

If they were to be implemented, it would only be in certain areas pointed out by the cleaning crew (well: yes!), and there should be a few moderations to the design. But, since we don’t have a cup litter problem in the urban setting, they would suggest this idea for the park people, at Park & Natur. If they were to agree to a test around the lakes, the cleaning department would be open to include some garbage cans on Queen Louises Bridge.

The evaluation ends with the cleaning department declaring that they focus their effort on and around Sankt Hans Torv, and I am welcome to bring up any ideas for this area.


The Test Tubes will never surrender. Tomorrow they will be on Danish radio P1, in the program airing 11.30. I will leave a link when it is up. Pretending there is no cup litter problem in Copenhagen, will not make it go away. If only it worked like that.

 March 3 2013, Queen Louises Bridge. No problem.

March 11 2013

My favorite Danish blogger AmarOrama makes some noise for the tubes. To the bone, haha. 

First spring weekend on the bridge (March 3 2013)


What does it take for sanity to prevail?

I quit you not (February 23 2013)

Update on the Test Tubes! If you have never heard about them, here is an ultra brief introduction:

Copenhagen has a cup litter problem, trashcans are filling up too quickly especially during the summer months, creating a mess in certain areas, like those around the lakes and on Queen Louises Bridge. I made a tube for stacking the cups without the lid, and mounted it on the side of the trashcan. And it worked. With pressure from the internet and media, the city finally agreed to make a test run.

Pictogram Test Tube

The test was supposed to run until the end of September 2012, but they only now got around to dismounting them. Officially the experiment is over, although I am not sure you can call it an effective one at that, without an evaluation. I made my own, of course: obviously they worked, day and night, summer and winter, people stacked cups like their lives depended on it. The crew emptying the trashcans were not amused, as they got another task on their hands, but the "snappers", those who pick up individual pieces of litter, were really happy. I talked to one who confirmed that the cup litter problem was gone on the bridge.

Test Tube jackpot

Test Tube jackpot!

Test Tube spilling

Hey, I'm not saying there is no room for improvement, only that it works. Let's take it from there!

Dealing with the cleaning department is another challenge. They are under the impression that we don't have a cup litter problem in Copenhagen (!?).

Cup litter

The problem

All that tells me is that the people in charge of keeping the city clean, don't live here. And, come summer the bridge and the lake area will once again be a mess. Unless someone very stubborn takes the test to the third phase...


I named this one Houdini, he is hiding in the lake.

We don't know how to quit, do we?

The Test Tube follow up in today's Copenhagen Post

The first post: The Test Tubes
The second post: Big news!

Click here to see the original post, and add a comment!

The tubes in the Copenhagen Post: (February 23 2013)

February 2013:

The city has dismounted the Test Tubes, but I have heard no news about an evaluation. Although you would think that it should be executed as close to the test, as possible?

Fortunately they missed a few. I'm not saying where because I believe the city is better off with than without them. Ha. Also, one escaped, I named him Houdini:



A small update (November 2012)

In case you are wondering about the fate of the Test Tubes, here is an update. I have received no feedback from the city's cleaning department. They have left them up, but they are not emptied very often. The graffiti cleaners have removed the text/icons on several of them, or repositioned them, message side turned away. Sabotaged the project, in other words.

But hey: *someone* is working on tha
t.. First order of business (I am told) is to take the tubes from the areas where they are not needed, and place them where they are (Vesterbro and inner city coming up). The ones without writing gets a touch up, and it will be all icons from now on, along with a clear sign where to empty them. The test tubes will not go quietly into the night.


Good news/bad news (August 3 2012)
Good news/bad news. Good news are that people are using the tubes like crazy. On the bridge, where  cuplittering was at its worst, the tubes are sometimes full to the brim. On the trashcans with the tubes, I have not yet spotted any cuplitter next to it. And they are always in use, even on rainy days. Bad news: someone stole one of the tubes (pictogram edition), bringing them down to fifteen. I hope it at least was an act of love.

Good news: 


Email from the UK (July 28 2012)

Email from ZILCH (people against litter) in the UK: Hello Sandra, you may be interested to see that we're now in production with a cheaper/simpler version of what you have pioneered in Copenhagen! (link: here). *** I can't wait to see if it works there too.


Full House (July 22 2012)

"Full house" on a Sunday night, this picture was taken less than one week in. The Copenhageners are using the tubes more and more, and so far I have spotted no cup litter next to any of the trashcans with tubes attached. Wow, Copenhagen!


Big news! (July 19 2012)
If you are really exhausted with the Test Tubes, I suggest you skip this post, because I have some big news: Monday the second edition hit the streets of Copenhagen. For those of you unfamiliar with the the Test Tubes, here is a recap, including the recent development:

We have a big coffee cup litter problem in targeted areas of Copenhagen. I live in one of those areas, and was getting really tired of the mess. Mostly the cups would get dumped next to the trashcans, as they were already full with other cups, taking up space that should be used for sticky stuff and smaller litter. In an attempt to solve the problem, I came up with a tube bolted to the trashcan, suggesting removing the lids and stacking the cups. How it all began, back in March:

The solution?

The tube is attached to the trashcan at the top with a single bolt. The stick in the bottom keeps them in, and for emptying you just pull it out, and flip the tube. Slide the cups out, reposition the tube and plug the pin back in. Easy.

And people got it right away. The tubes stayed up for a week, before being removed by the city. My countless emails were not answered. Nevertheless I planned to follow up with a sturdier version, but it moved to my procrastinating pile for a while, until the media around the world picked up on them. The Copenhagen Post, a newspaper in English, even came up with the title Rubbish Vigilante. Haha, that's me. Finally, the city of Copenhagen got in touch, saying they would like to hear more about the project.

We met and decided to do a test run with sixteen tubes in aluminum, looking like a really sexy version of the humble cardboard tube. Hello.

Test tubes v 0.2

Test Tube detail

I was in charge of decorating them, and the paint dried just in time to get them up on my birthday. 

Mounting day of the Test Tubes

July 16, mounting day. In a way we now share a birthday. I tell you it was a happy one!



Tomme kopper - låg / Empty cups - lids


Twelve of them have the message in writing (empty cups minus lids), and four have the pictogram. Already I can tell it should have been the other way around, the easy read is by far the winner!

The tubes will stay up until October, and if they turn out to work, it is safe to say you can expect more Test Tube spam. They are scattered around Nørrebro (Sankt Hans Torv, Elmegade, Ravnsborggade, Nørrebrogade and Fælledvej), with a heavy presence at Queen Louises Bridge, where most of the cup litter action takes place. It has pretty much been raining ever since, not attracting the coffee cup crowd, but even so the tubes were already in use the next day.


July 17.

And today one was half full. It makes me so happy, I can't even begin to describe it.

Tube half full

July 19 (yes: boots, Danish summer 2012).

From the very start you have been so supportive, if it were not for you and the amazing internet, this might never have happened. Thank you so much for keeping me going, and for sticking it out with me.


Click here to see the original post, and add a comment.


(first post:)

The Test Tubes (March 29 2012) 
Copenhagen has a trash challenge at hand. The City's single solution to the problem so far has been to dispatch costly cleaning crews. Living by the lakes, where people march around with paper cups of coffee, and crossing the bridge every day, I have grown frustrated with the piles of trash.

You get the sense that at least some of them intend to hit the trashcan, but that is as far as they will go. Maybe some have carried their cups for several overloaded cans, because they all look like this at the end of the day on Sundays. And sunny days.

Last week I stopped to take more pictures of the trash at the bridge, and I could feel the anger building up inside. "Look at this mess?" I said out loud to no one. Someone replied "it isn't ours" and I knew that was probably the case, but I got increasingly annoyed all the same. Winding up speaking in a really loud tone. Very counterproductive, don't think I didn't know that at the time.

Right next to the overloaded trashcan... 

I mean: come on?!

When I got home I decided this was the wrong approach. I certainly don't respond well to people yelling at me, or treating me like a child. I wanted to wrap my brain around the problem, and see if I could come up with a solution. Obviously it would have to be something that would make people play along. I came up with the Test Tubes:

Painting. Empty Cups, minus lids. Messing it up big time (new found respect for stencil artists...), ended up doing it by hand.


The Test Tubes. 

The solution?

Day 1.

Day 3. Some people you just can't reach, haha.

When the tube is full (freeing the small trashcan for different kinds of trash), all you have to do is flip the Test Tube, pull out the bottom-stick, and empty it. I couldn't wait to see them in action. I mounted the two on Saturday, and meant to give them a full week before reporting back to you, but the experiment was cut short. The Test Tube report:

Day 1: No vandalism. No cups on the ground. A few cups in one tube.
Day 2: No vandalism. No cups on the ground. A few more cups in both tubes.
Day 3: No vandalism. No cups on the ground. Both tubes filling up.
Day 4: No vandalism. No cups on the ground. Both tubes almost full.
Day 5: No vandalism. No cups on the ground. Both tubes emptied, yay! This means the City got it too?
Day 6: Removed by the City of Copenhagen. I guess the answer to my previous question would be "no", then?

The way I see it, the Test Tubes was a success. If you can make people play along in only five days, there is no limit to how we can play our way out of this mess. I am not done. Not by a long shot.


The Test Tubes won't be silenced:

In The Copenhagen Post (English)
And a follow-up in The Copenhagen Post (English)
So I made them a page on Facebook, if you want to follow their progress:

Click here to see the original post, and add a comment.