Building A Better Bin

Saturday, May 09, 2009

While I was a student here I was always extremely disappointed with the recycling system. Of course I never really had a complete picture of everything that was going on. I never knew about the initiation of a recycling program on campus in 1992; I never knew about the night crews that collect and sort waste; and I certainly didn’t know about the politics behind recycling bins.

There is so much more to the story than you think and I want to share a little bit about our experience so that others can profit and make the proverbial “better mouse trap”. The title of this little series is ‘building a better bin’ and it is called such because in the pursuit of creating a more responsible society I believe that we can start with a better recycling bin.

Our story begins back in 2007 when the University of Ottawa was going through a little bit of a rough patch with regards to green public relations. The Globe and Mail publishes an annual survey about how student perceive the environmental initiatives of their campus. That year the University of Ottawa didn’t do particularly well. It’s not that the University wasn’t a good environmental steward; it’s just that people didn’t think that it was. Sometimes perception is reality.

Now there are many things that the University can do to be greener but none is more omnipresent than to do more recycling. Everyone understands the impacts of recycling, you put a bottle in a bin and you help save the planet. Nice and easy, no questions asked. But it isn’t really as easy as that. You see even if everyone understands that recycling is good, less than half the people on campus actually do it. So how can you create a bin that actually gets more people to recycle? Is that even possible?

So there are 4 things that I am going to talk about that will actually prove that yes indeed you can make people recycle more with a better bin. Research, aesthetics, locations, and materials; mix all these things together and you can make something special happen. So do you want to know how?

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