I am a garbage picker and proud of it. I have no problem taking recyclables out of the trash and putting them in their appropriate recycling bin — whether it’s in an office or at a friend’s house. It just makes me so itchy seeing recyclable items get thrown out! When I’m out and about, I regularly take cups, bottles, and even leftovers home if there aren’t recycling or composting facilities available — it’s not unusual for me to come home and have to go through my purse to make sure I haven’t missed anything.
Dedicated (to a) recycling bin
In my own home, I, like many others, have a dedicated recycling bin. It sits in the kitchen and it’s where I put my bottles and cans, paper and recyclable plastic before I take it out to the curb once a week. You’d think that having a setup like this would eliminate the need to be a garbage picker in my own home, but… it doesn’t.
For some reason (OK, I think the technical term is “laziness”) it seems overwhelmingly difficult to take something destined for the recycling and walk it all the way into the kitchen whenever I need to recycle it. More often than not, that thing gets tossed into the trash basket of whatever room I happen to be in at the time. But, because I’m not a terrible person, I don’t just throw everything out when it’s time to empty the garbage. I make sure to pick out any paper, cardboard or other recyclables before trashing the rest. It’s a simple process, but not an altogether pleasant one and I’d never been able to find a simple way to avoid it short of cluttering up every single room with a dedicated recycling bin.
One woman may have solved this issue and found a way to make recycling rates skyrocket, too. Teacher Laura Rodriguez is the brain behind BinBisa, a unique waste basket that is separated into two sections — one for waste, one for recyclables. The bins come in a variety of sizes and styles — from a sleek neutral white to rustic brushed copper, or my personal favorite, a natural looking basket weave. This variety means that BinBisa will look at home in every room and users can sort recyclables right when they need to, instead of throwing them out or, ahem, picking them out later.
It’s an incredibly simple idea, but Rodriguez had a hunch that just making recycling more visible and accessible would bump up recycling rates. Well, it turns out she was right, and what’s more, she now has a study conducted by UCLA to prove it.
The UCLA/BinBisa Residential Recycling Study was designed by Vivian Lew Ph.D, and involved 100 diverse families. Each family was supplied with BinBisas, and surveyed about their recycling habits both before and after the study in order to see if having these innovative dual-purpose bins would change recycling behavior. The results were astounding. As reported on the BinBisa website, some of the results are as follows:
- BinBisa increased recycling convenience in 97.5% of households.
- In households where members had not been checking products for the triangular recycling symbol before the study, 75% reported that household members were “now regularly checking for the symbol” by the end of the BinBisa study.
- 88.8% of households reported changed recycling habits because of their BinBisas.
- 97.5% of households saw items being recycling that had never been recycled before because of their BinBisas.
- Specifically tested items, like shampoo bottles, gel tubs, soap boxes, toilet paper rolls, and product boxes all saw increases in getting recycled. Lotion bottle recycling went up by 52%, for example, while shampoo bottle recycling increased by 45%. Product boxes saw a 61% rise & toilet paper roll recycling increased by 125%. Overall, every specifically tracked item saw an increased recycling rate, with the percentages of positive change ranging from 23% to 258%.
It’s incredible how much of an impact this simple bin has on the behavior of participants, but it really shouldn’t come as a shock. Many other studies on subjects like bottle bills and recycling bin locations have highlighted the importance of convenience and incentives in order to encourage positive recycling behavior. Making it easy for people to make an environmentally-friendly choice means they’re far more like to do it and do it more often, too.
In a quote provided on the BinBisa website, Rodriguez says,
“Having a dual purpose tool, rather than an old fashioned trashcan (wastebasket), creates a point of use decision, a choice between landfill and recycling.”
And it appears that when faced with this choice, the overwhelming majority of users choose to be green. It feels sort of reassuring to know that, doesn’t it?
The future of recycling
While BinBisa isn’t on available for purchase on store shelves just yet, keep your eyes peeled out for it in the very near future. Rodriguez is currently in talks with manufacturers to get these life-changing bins into stores and then into your home, too. In the meantime, I guess I’ll just have to keep up my habit of garbage picking.
PS — Don’t forget our very own recycling search is a great resource when looking for recycling in your area!
Feature image credit: BinBisa