With green initiatives cropping up at the corporate level, many forget that the best way to help the environment is to act locally. There may be no better way to do this than to encourage recycling in your own community or local school. One sure fire way of getting young people involved is helping them design and place fun rubbish containers. It can be an educational experience for them, as well as a way to promote social awareness and interest in environmentalism. Many schools may be willing to sponsor these kind of events, or possibly provide likeminded volunteers to help work with the students. At the very least, schools could provide a testing ground to see if fun rubbish bins actually increase recycling behaviour.
Just Have Fun with It
One basic way of making recycling fun could be to construct a bin that looks like a basketball hoop or football net. It won’t be long before it catches the eye of people walking by, and it almost invariably induces them to try to “shoot” a piece of rubbish into the bin. One could also construct a large bull’s eye target and place it around the bin, encouraging people to toss their rubbish at it like a dart board. You would be surprised how these simple additions encourage people to make better usage of these bins.
You could even colour code them to let people know whether the bins should be used for cans, paper or plastic recyclables.
Another way could be to create a “themed” set of bins that showcase creativity, such as a barnyard set of bins that are coloured like animals including cows, pigs, chickens and horses. This may be ideal for groups including younger crowds. Anything that is novel and eye-catching will be sure to spur on recycling.
Get People Hooked on It
Some cola companies have introduced an enterprising new system that allows users to record points by disposing their cola cans and bottles into computerized containers. These machines store the customers point total, and lets them exchange points for interesting merchandise. This subtle reinforcement will rapidly get people hooked on recycling, even if they aren’t particularly green minded individuals. Many times these bins are conveniently placed right next to the vending machines that dispensed the cola cans or bottles. So as soon as the customer finishes off the drink, they can quickly and conveniently place the bottle and win points. Always remember that along with making recycling fun, it should be made as convenient and accessible as possible to maintain the behaviour.
Make It Exciting
Taking the electronic bins a step further, some have even created gambling devices out of the bin. With each can or bottle being worth a few cents in recycle value, these cans are used as “credits” that can be used to play slots or other computerized gambling games. These electronic rubbish bins are high tech and may cost a bit initially, but they have a proven track record of attracting new customers and making recycling a positive habit. Consider finding someone with a little engineering know-how, or contacting these companies directly. Many times, they are eager to attach themselves to green projects as a way of creating consumer awareness of their dedication to environmental causes.
Make It a Competition
Finally, if you are working with students, consider making a contest out of the project. You might be surprised how much creativity young people can come up with if they are encouraged to compete for the best design. After all, necessity is the mother of all invention. Consider providing awards or raffle prizes based on the most creative idea as voted on by a group. Or have people collect data on how many pounds of rubbish can be collected by each team that designs a new bin. However it is designed, making recycling fun is an excellent learning experience and rewarding for all involved.