Building a Better Bin part III

Saturday, May 30, 2009


My boss always tells me that the secret to success is to surround yourself with the best people and let them do their thing. This makes sense after all; no one can do everything by themselves. The matter at hand was recycling and building a recycling dream team was less intuitive than one might think. I mean who are the right people to use if you want to complete reform the recycling system on campus? As this little story about building better bins continues I feel it is important to talk about the people that made these bins a reality.

Let me tell you that a lot of ideas floated through my mind. I started with hardcore environmentalists but… recycling is a shared common activity so it had to be a colloquial activity. I thought about getting an outside consultant group but… the problems on our campus are unique to our campus and we needed ‘local solutions’. I even thought about getting some business people (who else to take a cold shrill look at recycling on campus and figure out how best to manage resources)? But even that eventually fizzled out of my mind. Once again it came down to a question of convenience and not preference (more about his in the next entry).

The Recycling Expert – Brigitte Morin
So finally a solution found me. I had been working with the sustainability coordinator at the SFUO on a campus composting program; Brigitte discovered that we could compost on campus and actually save money. And as it turned out her contract was up… quelle fortune. It was a natural fit to have her consult with us on creating a new recycling bin for the campus. She had the know-how and tenacity to make recycling bins work again. But most importantly, she believed that we could do better.

The Designer – Genevieve Quesnel
The recycling survey identified oodles of design deficiencies with the old recycling bins on campus. They were inaccessible, they were inflexible, and they were unattractive (some people didn’t want to even use the bins because they looked unclean). There were even complaints from the university administration (the bins were clunky, hard to move, and an eye soar). Gen is an interior design coordinator for uOttawa with a knack for seeing how people will interact with the objects in their environment. Her job was to find a way to create a more functionally interactive design.
*** Little known fact – the new recycling centers are known as the GQ-2. The GQ because they are named after Gen as the original designer and version 2 because this was the second incarnation of the reformed bins. ***

Technologist – Tiana Dargent
Technologist??? Okay this is a little complicated to explain but in a nut shell there is a strong visual component that is linked to recycling. I won’t go into details here but the physical shape of the bin is only half the story. The other half is the signage and instructions. Tiana is a specialist in CAD technologies and university visual standards. Her job was to make the bin easier to understand from a user’s perspective.

So there you have it. The core team that put the recycling bins together. Of course there were dozens of people behind the scenes that made the whole thing happen, including the students conducting surveys and the university administration for funding the whole initiative; but I like the think that this was the nucleus. Good projects need good people and since recycling is something I hold near and dear to me, I am glad that the team working on this project was the best out there.

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