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Build At Home Hacks, draft Recycling Habit Toolkit, partner with, develop Recycling Curriculum+Contest, identify Local Recycling Repositories, and launch Coca-Cola Recycling/Happiness Guerilla Campaign

This idea includes a contest to create replicable “at home hacks" for adults and children, a recycling habit formation toolkit (pdf) for many personas, a recycling curriculum toolkit for teachers with a student “at home hack” contest, identifying as a one-stop-resource for everything related to recycling, gamification of local recycling repositories, and a legendary Coca-Cola “happiness” guerilla marketing campaign that socially nudges people to recycle in a fun way.

Photo of Leigh Cullen
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Explain your idea in one sentence

This series of ideas addresses all opportunity areas (engaging young people, making recycling fun, design for social nudges, demystifying recycling, hacking our homes, and helping habits stick) and can be rolled out as one, large integrated initiative/campaign, or can be tackled as separate initiatives based on available resources and interest.
I'm still brainstorming through this post. Will add to it as ideas take form and flesh out. Team members welcomed!

Added "Idea" post on 5/23/14:
Attractive Recycle Bin Designs for Any Space & Any Style (DIY or Ready-Made)
Think outside the box when searching for a home recycling bin system. Search for home storage systems in general, or even for children's toys storage systems. Repurpose those creative bin systems into recycling bins. A variety of attractive recycling bin systems are out there for those who like to DIY or for those who prefer to purchase ready-made systems.

Added "Idea" post on 5/19/14:
Making Our Part of the Universe a "Happiverse"–Coca-Cola Reverse Vending Machines
A guerrilla marketing campaign. Recycle at your local Coca-Cola vending machine. Join a global recycling social network. Earn incentives for recycling.

Added "Idea" post on 5/15/14:
Simplified Recycling Iconography/Language–Customizable To Any Brand
Eliminate obscure recycling iconography & language on product packaging. Instead, state how to recycle a product in a few simple sentences on packing (in the brand's tone of voice), like, "I'm made of glass. Recycle me at your curb. Not sure if your neighborhood recycles? Check"

(Hacking our homes, Make recycling fun, Engaging kids)
Challenge communities like OpenIDEO,, and Etsy to produce easy “at home hack” recycling bins. The challenge will bucket the designs into general style categories that appeal to any home decoration taste like, mod/contemporary, rustic/traditional, vintage/retro, industrial, international, and for the kids’ room. The requirements are:
  1. Bin materials must be upcycled/recycled content
  2. The steps to build the containers must be easy to follow and to replicate in as few steps as possible–so that anyone at home can build the bins
  3. One must create a system where multiple items can be recycled (ie, plastic, paper, cans, glass, cans, etc.)
  4. There will be a category for “easy bins for children to build”

Winning entries with replicable building steps will be placed online for the public to access on sites like Recyclebank, UpcycleThat, OpenIDEO, IKEA (etc) and anyone else interested in participating.

(Helping habits stick)
Develop a simple toolkit in pdf format that demonstrates how to integrate recycling into one’s personal habits. It explains habit formation and identifies a variety of personas (university student, busy mom, young/single professional, etc.) and suggests where to insert recyling into one's day based on persona.

(Engaging young people and kids)
Create a general recycling toolkit (that includes #2–RECYCLING HABIT TOOLKIT) for teachers in pdf format with appropriate research, exploratory links/content, and projects. One project is to build a recycling bin system out of recycled content (an "at home hack"). Target art classes in high school & design and architecture curricula in higher ed. (Designers, raise your hands if you took a prereq 3D class and built chairs, musical instruments, etc. This project will be easy for you. Would love to see your ideas for at home hacks!) Students then submit final products to a contest. Potentially partner with Coca-Cola and others to advertise student winners via global social media outlets and potentially retail the products (and/or provide other prizes). The goal is to make recycling class a prereq.

(Demystifying recycling, Gaming, Make recycling fun, Hacking our homes, Helping habits stick)
Use the fabulous resource that is! Continue building out a one-stop-shop for everything recycling–where recycling questions are answered, local recycling resources and opportunities are identified, points are awarded & incentives are available (gaming) for those who recycle, at home recycling/green living ideas are shared, and a general recyclopedia is integrated. See if Recyclebank is willing to partner up to:
  1. Show the step-by-step process of how to build the “at home hack” recycling bins (see #1–YOU: BUILD/SUBMIT AN AT HOME HACK)
  2. Sell harder to reproduce at home upcycled & non-upcycled recycling bins in more specific interior design styles like Art Deco, Arts and Crafts, Nautical, English Country, Transitional, Moroccan, Shabby Chic, Colonial, French, etc. Interior designers, architects, and the general public can purchase here.
  3. Advertise upcycled recycling bins (and other upcycled/designed items) from communities like and
  4. Promote student "at home hack" winners (see #3–STUDENTS: RECYCLING CURRICULUM & CONTEST) and potentially sell their work.
  5. Promote successful community recycling projects and contact information so that other communities can replicate the process with guidance, ease, and appropriate resources. For example, link to:
    "How two Rural, Creative North Carolina Communities Recycle a Local Landfill in a way that Creates Jobs, Assists Startups, Furthers the Arts & Aids Endangered Plant Life"
And advertise the above resources (as deemed appropriate) through OpenIDEO, Coca-Cola, Etsy, and other channels who may be interested in promoting recycling.

(Helping habits stick, possibly Gaming)
Start by identifying community recycling points via ( This can be done by anyone. Then the goal is to find out if one's local municipality or waste hauler can partner with local grocery stores and gas stations (etc) to add recycling hubs/stations on location. And see if Recyclebank's system of earning points & rewards can be integrated into this. Going to the grocery and gas station are necessary habits. Meaning this could be a worthwhile opportunity to form a new habit–to load up one's recycling in the trunk and drop it off at the grocery or gas station (and potentially get rewarded for it!).
{I'm still thinking through this idea...}

(Design for social nudges, Make recyling fun, Engaging all people)

Updated this idea here: Making Our Part of the Universe a "Happiverse"–Coca-Cola Reverse Vending Machines

Coca-Cola’s guerilla marketing campaigns are wildly effective and unabashedly creative. The campaigns have the remarkable ability to propel all age ranges, genders & cultures to participate, by tapping into a core emotion all people enjoy: happiness. The ingredients of happiness–fun, humor, sharing, goodwill, friendship, love, removing barriers–are found in Coca-Cola’s campaign recipes. Check out a few examples:

Personalized Coke Cans
The Sharing Can
The Remix Bottle
Coca-Cola brings India & Pakistan closer together with "Small World Machines"
The Sing For Me Vending Machine
The Dancing Vending Machine
The Hug (Vending) Machine

Taking the ingredients of happiness, what is a Coca-Cola marketing campaign around recycling? ...What about a Coca-Cola Recyling Vending Machine–a Coke vending machine with a recycling component built into it. (Recycle cans for a free coke. Get "happy planet points"...) Enter your zipcode into a Coke vending machine after recycling to see if you and your community (or college) are besting a neighboring community's (or college's) recycling points. Or a customizable Coke can/bottle campaign that targets personal recycling habits in a fun way...

Describe how your idea would help form new habits and improve recycling at home

The idea will provide 1) replicable “at home hacks,” 2) DIY recycling habit toolkit anyone can read/identify with, 3) links to for info about what's recyclable & where it's recycled, about incentives for individuals/communities who recycle AND that could include "at home hack" info, the recycling habit toolkit, replicable community recycling initiatives, and could sell more advanced recycling bin systems that appeal to any taste, 4) a toolkit geared toward students so recycling can be ingrained at an early age (includes contest), 5) incentives (via gamification) for individuals who get local groceries and gas stations (etc) involved in Recyclebank, and 6) one of Coca-Cola’s legendary “happiness” marketing campaigns can spark people to enjoy recycling.

How might you design an early, lightweight experiment to further develop your idea?

I could start here: 1) develop/test a few personas for the recycling habit toolkit, 2) see if anyone in the OpenIDEO community is interested in building a few replicable "at home hack" recycling bins in the following styles: a mod/contemporary, a traditional, a vintage/retro, and one that the kids can build.

What aspects of your idea could benefit from the input of our OpenIDEO community?

The OpenIDEO community is invaluable across all areas listed above, in: 1) volunteering to build a few replicable “at home hack” recycling bins, 2) helping develop personas for a habit formation toolkit, 3) contacting their “local municipality or waste hauler and telling them they want to get rewarded for recycling at home (” & targeting info that may be interested in incorporating into their site, 4) starting to draft a recycling toolkit geared towards teachers/students & talking with local schools/teachers to ascertain if they might be interested in integrating a recycling “at home hack project” into their curriculum, 5) finding out if their local municipality or waste hauler can partner with Recyclebank and local grocery stores and gas stations (etc) to add recycling stations.


Join the conversation:

Photo of Jes Simson

Hey Leigh. Such an incredible holistic solution.

I agree that Coke could do wonders using advertising / digital campaigns to link joy and happiness with recycling their goods. I especially liked your idea to include customisable messages - that way you could really infuse a personalised and personable tone into an area that is usually pretty bland and mundane. It also offers a level of engagement that could lead to long term behavioural change. It reminds me of Google's 'Art, Copy and Code talking shoe project' - see: - it also links into my research into using small details to ignite behavioural change: see -

I also liked your idea of including recycling bins in the places where you want to drive and park your car (like the supermarket or petrol station). When I lived in Edinburgh, Scotland, the closest glass recycling bank was a good 10 - 15 minute drive away - so my motivation to recycle glass was pretty low (especially since I had to borrow a car to get there!)

I was wondering how you could link these behaviours? Could it be as simple as adding a tiny sticker next to the petrol meter in your car to remind you to load recyclables into your car? Should we place our recycling in the same bags that we shop with so that we have to take recycling to the supermarket? How might we easily link these two different actions?

Photo of Leigh Cullen

Thanks Jes! You bring up great points to ideate around–like mini-reminders (stickers on gas pumps, using same bags for groceries & recyclables, etc.)

A few rough brainstorms:
Recycling info on product packaging is typically too small, boring, and obscure. Integrate fun, bold recycling reminders directly on product labeling.

If gaming is integrated into recycling stations, neighbors who have cars (if you don't) could receive extra recycling points for volunteering to take your recyclables in with their recyclables.

Or perhaps local bikeshares (like could participate by adding baskets to their bikes. Folks could rent-a-bike, pop their recycling into the baskets, peddle over to a recycling station – while getting healthy and having a fun day out around town!

Btw, love the Google Talking Shoe!

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