Make recycling more convenient
For those of us in urban environments, a problem with making recycling a habit is inconvenience. People don't like mess, smell or inconvenience. They also don't like confusion. Make attractive bins for the home. Color-code them and add lids the make recyclable, disposable bags for inside each. Put images onto the bags and in the bin lids showing what can(not )be recycled. What is easy becomes habit.
Explain your idea in one sentence
Attractive, color-coded recycling bins with lids for the home with recyclable bags inside, both with images for what can(not) be recycled.
One of the problems with moving recycling from a good idea to a habit is inconvenience: mess, smell, hassle of disposal. Another is confusion or lack of information. We have bins for outside, but limited options for inside the house. Having color-coded bins that are attractive enough to line up in the kitchen or store nicely in a closet would help. They need lids to keep out animals/small children and keep in the smell/mess. If we add to that disposable bags made from the recyclable materials (paper bags for paper, bio-degradable for food, etc.) then it minimizes having to clean the bins. (Old food packaging can stink!) It also saves having to unload bags piece by piece at the recycling location then carrying the dirty bag around. Convenient. Put images onto the bins and bags showing what can(not) be recycled so we don't have to post papers on the wall until we have it memorized the lists. (Some lists are long!) Make the bags easy to carry from house to outside recycling bin. Much easier.
Describe how your idea would help form new habits and improve recycling at home
Many adults already have enough to do. Cleaning one trash can is an inconvenience; making them clean many is not a motivation to recycle. Minimize the inconvenience and it becomes more interesting. This includes minimizing unsightliness, smell, keeping it away from pets and kids and getting it out of the house. Plastic bags for recyclable plastic are easily available. Having the bins and bags color-coded and with images/text on them makes it easier to remember what goes where for both adults and children. Colors and images helps those who cannot read. Images and text help people who are color blind. It is all about convenience. Make it easy for us to recycle with minimal inconvenience or having to think about even more stuff all the time.
How might you design an early, lightweight experiment to further develop your idea?
Have people of different lifestyles (singles, couples, with children) and age groups use the recycling bins at home for a month or two. Include two groups : those who already try to recycle but are not very successful and those who have not yet started separating their trash at home. See if it becomes a habit. What are the pros and cons? Do the colors help? Do the images help?
What aspects of your idea could benefit from the input of our OpenIDEO community?
What variables would be needed? Do we need different size bins and bags for different size families? How do we indicate what does and does not go into a bag? Some images are easy (fruit, paper) but others are not (types of plastics, paper with food on it such as pizza boxes and microwavable cartons). How do we visualize these? How do we make the bins and bags easily available? All of this is already available somewhere in the world, but not easy to get. How do we get it into stores? How do we reward stores for carrying them at a reasonable price?